Police met to stop attending mental health calls – BBC News

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The Met issued an August 31 deadline before instituting the ban

Met Police will stop responding to 911 calls related to mental health incidents from September in a bid to free up resources for officers.

The London force will only attend 999 mental health-related calls where there is an \”immediate threat to life\”.

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley wrote to the health and social care services last week, the Guardian reported.

But the chief executive of mental health charity Mind has expressed \”major concerns\” about the plan.

Police forces across Great Britain have seen a significant increase in the number of mental health incidents they have dealt with over the past five years.

Some police chiefs believe the increase is due to the fact that the police are increasingly seen as the first resource for people in crisis, as well as a lack of capacity in the community to address growing mental health needs.

As first reported by the Guardian, the Met says it is seeking to \”redress the accountability imbalance\”, which often sees police officers \”left to shoulder healthcare responsibilities\”.

But Sarah Hughes of Mind has warned there is not enough capacity in other public services to replace the work currently being done by police officers.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4\’s Today programme, she said: \”I\’m not convinced we have enough in the system to tolerate a switch to this new approach.

\”We have a long way to go until the system works together on behalf of very distressed individuals.\”

He said the Met and the NHS \”urgently need to sit down together and come up with a plan in response to these big concerns\”.

The College of Policing defines a mental health incident as \”any police incident deemed to be related to someone\’s mental health in which their vulnerability is a focus of the incident.\” And it is estimated that police officers spend 20-40% of their time dealing with such incidents.

The Met\’s new plan has already been adopted by Humberside Police, which introduced the Right Care, Right Person (RCRP) program in 2020 to ensure mental health calls are handled by mental health professionals.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said the RCRP program has been \”hugely successful in improving outcomes, reducing demand for all services and, most importantly, ensuring the right care is provided by the right person.\”

\”Police are compassionate and highly trained, but are not trained to provide mental health care and spend an average of 10 hours with a patient when sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

\”In London alone between 500 and 600 times a month, officers are waiting all this time to deliver patients, and it can\’t continue,\” they added.

The BBC spoke to police and health leaders about the pressures on mental health services and the amount of time frontline police officers spend caring for patients in crisis.

A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained: \”Cops on the front lines try not to use the powers we have because they take us off the street when we should be responding to 999 calls.\”

The officer explained that someone can be detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, which gives police officers the power to \”transfer someone to a safe place\”.

But the problems arise because \”when no one is free to evaluate them in the hospital, we can\’t just leave them\”.

The Government announced in January a capital investment of 150 million to improve places and spaces across the NHS for people who are experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – a mental health crisis.

He said the funding will allow for the acquisition of up to 90 new mental health ambulances, which will bring specialist staff directly to patients to provide on-site support or transfer them to the most appropriate location for care.

If you are affected by any of the issues in this article, you can find details of organizations that can help you via the BBC action line.

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