Police 'swamped by calls about mental health', claims report

Police taking calls on mental health issues every two minutes, watchdog warns

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She continued: "The police should be the last resort, not the first port of call".

Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, Zoe Billingham, explained that an analysis of calls to police command and control rooms had shown a peak of calls between 3pm and 6pm on weekdays, particularly from partner agencies like doctors' surgeries and other mental health services.

Mr Hobbs said police were now dealing with an "explosion" of people in the midst of a "mental health crises", but that there was "nowhere to take them".

The national report found that people with mental health problems are being let down by support systems, and an "intolerable burden" is being placed on police officers and staff who are often left to pick up the pieces.

Police are having to ignore crimes to look after vulnerable people as they "pick up the pieces" of a "broken mental health system", a damning report has found. Officers are being swamped by calls about mental illness, with the country's biggest force receiving one such call every four minutes, inspectors said.

"As a Force we have been vocal about changing the way people with mental health issues are treated".

The top five individual repeat callers to the Metropolitan Police all have mental health problems and called the force a total of 8,655 times in 2017, the report said.

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A survey of the public published alongside the inspectorate's findings revealed the majority (70%) said the health service should deal with mental health calls, 10% think it should be the council and just 2% believe it is the police's responsibility.

Police funding has fallen by 19% in real terms since 2010, while officer numbers have dropped by more than 20,000 over the same period.

"Our officers respond to those with mental health problems with care and compassion but we can not expect the police service to solve this complex problem alone".

And alongside rail workers, police stopped 1,837 people from committing suicide on the rail network.

Superintendent Allan Wescott, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "Mental health is a frequent factor in many incidents that the police are called to, whether a person is a victim of crime, a witness, or someone who is calling us as a cry for help".

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue today called for a "radical rethink" of how to respond to the national mental health crisis and the role the police should play. This is not a problem that the police alone can solve.

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