Desperate families left with ‘scandalous lack of NHS provision’
POLICE are dealing with record levels of phone calls relating to mental-health issues, with failing NHS services being blamed.
The Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest force, dealt with 115,000 calls last year, an average of 315 a day or 13 calls an hour.
The numbers, obtained by Labour under the Freedom of Information Act, have risen by a third since 2011-12 and officers say that it is part of a national trend.
Labour’s shadow police minister Louise Haigh said the numbers should act as a “wake-up call” for the government as she warned that police were picking up the pieces due to a “scandalous lack of mental-health provision.”
Police forces in England and Wales are becoming increasingly involved in dealing with mental-health issues, with 28,271 detentions under the Mental Health Act in 2015-16 compared to 17,417 in 2005-06, a 62 per cent rise. And they warn that cuts to NHS mental-health service provision is increasing pressure on the police.
Mental-health co-ordinator for the College of Policing Inspector Michael Brown said: “Most people in contact with police about mental-health issues don’t need the police, they need a mental-health professional.
“The inability to access a mental-health professional is the problem, and that generates a lot of work for the police.”
Ms Haigh said: “The dismantling of vital early intervention services forces those with mental-health issues onto lengthy waiting lists.
“In desperation or in crisis, they will turn to the police, who are acting as the service of last resort, a role they are wholly unequipped for.
“While facing a savage cut in numbers, the police are increasingly being asked to pick up the pieces of a scandalous lack of mental-health provision. Incidents involving mental health are at record highs as police resilience reaches rock bottom.
“The result is genuinely frightening and these figures should act as a wake-up call for the government.”
A Department of Health spokesman recited: “Everyone should be able to access the mental-health support they need. We have made major improvements in recent years, including setting up the firstever access and waiting standards for mental health and increasing mental-health spending year-on-year to a record £11.6 billion in 2016/17.”