75% officer time spent on mental health issues says Police Superintendent

Image above: Daily Express front page, Wednesday 27 July

Frustration at Liz Truss’s ‘No ifs no buts’ jibe

A Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police has gone public on social media about the amount of time the police have to spend dealing with mental health issues.

‘Heading home after night shifts responsible as Duty Super for 15 South & West London Boroughs I’d estimate at least 75-80% of officer time spent helping people & other agencies with suicidal, despondent & mental ill health, almost all of which hasn’t any bearing on actual crime’ writes Superintendent Dan Ivey.

He itemises 22 calls he received from officers overnight and writes:

‘Each of these calls is an officer ringing me to discuss a high risk missing person, asking for authority to use phone data, or seeking advice Between 12 > 6am there are 22 calls – (another 4 before that, plus 3 voicemails) And these are just the highest risk cases. Staggering.’

The police have become the emergency service of last resort.

‘Having been called, they can’t, legally or morally, just leave’ wrote Richard Taylor in response. ‘If someone is suicidal, giving birth or having some sort of major health crisis like a heart attack or stroke, they have to stay until they can hand off to others.’

Picking up the pieces

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in 2018 ‘Picking up the pieces’ said:

‘We have significant concerns about whether the police should be involved in responding to mental health problems to the degree that they are. The police need to be clearer about the extent of this problem.

‘Too many aspects of the broader mental health system are broken; the police are left to pick up the pieces.

‘The fact that almost every police force now has its own mental health triage team indicates that there isn’t nearly enough emphasis on early intervention and primary care to prevent the need for a crisis response.

‘This is letting down people with mental health problems, as well as placing an intolerable burden on police officers and staff. It is a national crisis which should not be allowed to continue; there needs to be a fundamental rethink and urgent action.’

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