New figures have revealed that police in Devon and Cornwall have experienced a 10% rise in mental health callouts and are attending up to 15 separate incidents a day.
In 2010 the number of mental health callouts were 4,891 but by 2014 this had risen to 5,364. The force’s police federation has expressed that officers are frustrated that the NHS doesn’t have the capacity to deal with people with mental health issues so it ends up getting passed onto them.
With the NHS facing increasing demand for mental health services however, there’s little that can be done. In November of last year for example, a girl from Devon with mental health problems was kept in a police cell for two days due to a lack of care beds available.
A mother of a young girl with complex mental health issues has also commented about how the police have been called out a handful of times after her daughter has tried to commit suicide on several occasions. Although she praised them for their help, she questioned whether or not the police are equipped to deal with such cases:
“I really don’t feel they are the entity to call for mental health issues: you need mental health trained professionals. They could be dealing with an assault or a road traffic accident instead. It’s just the wrong choice, police should not be dealing with mental health.”
Tom Pollard from the mental health charity, Mind has also expressed concern over the rise in police callouts to such incidents and Nigel Rabbitts from the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation has confirmed that only approximately 30% of officers’ time is taken up by detecting and investigating crime.
If you think that you or someone you know could be suffering with mental health problems, please feel free to visit our Knowledge Centre to find out more about everything from addictions and eating disorders to depression and anxiety. I you need mental health help, please contact Life Works today.