The Police Federation is calling for a review into the ‘growing mental health crisis’ which has seen police officers deal with 28 per cent more cases in the past four years, a move welcomed by Cheshire Police Federation’s equality and wellbeing lead Dan Lever.
An Institute for Government Performance Tracker 2019 survey has found the number of mental health incidents involving police officers rose from 385,206 to 494,159 between 2014 and 2018. It also showed there was a 13 per cent increase in the number of people taken to a place of safety by officers under the Mental Health Act.
The Federation is concerned that about 80 per cent of police officers’ time is spent dealing with incidents involving mental health situations.
“Police officers want to help people, it’s what they do,” says Dan, “But officers do not have the specialist skills and expertise required to properly support people in a mental health crisis so this can take its toll on them.
“People with mental ill-health need to have access to proper care and support and this review should take a thorough look at what is available to them. The current situation is unfair on mental health patients and also police officers.”
The national Federation chair has said the country is in the grip of ‘a growing mental health crisis’ and pointed out that police officers are at the very forefront of trying to protect and support vulnerable people.
John explained: “These figures show we have reached beyond tipping point and we would welcome a wider public investigation into these important issues. Most people think a police officer’s time is used in dealing solely with crime. However, about 80 per cent is spent dealing with non-crime related incidents involving mental health situations.
“These situations are extremely complex and often involve individuals in such a state of despair they may wish to end their own lives or hurt other people. I personally know from 27 years of service as a police officer just how emotionally distressing these situations are for my colleagues.” He added: “We urgently need a fresh investigation into this growing issue, where the emphasis must be on providing the best medical option for those in desperate need.”