Guardian: Police says its forces are becoming emergency mental health services

Vikram Dodd in the Guardian reports:

Police say they are being relied on as an emergency mental health service and that cuts in psychiatric provision are probably to blame, the Guardian has learned.

Officers point to an increase of more than 50% in a decade in the use of powers to detain people under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. It allows police to remove someone from a public place and take them to a place of safety.

Police suspect a dramatic increase in their use of emergency powers to deal with people suffering a mental health crisis is because of cuts to community psychiatric care. The number of instances of section 136 powers being used increased to 28,271 last year, up from 17,417 in 2005-06.

Alex Marshall, head of the College of Policing told the Guardian:

“This is a real live issue in all parts of the country. People in a mental health crisis should receive support, whatever time of day or night, from a properly trained mental health professional.”

Last week it emerged that a police chief is threatening to take legal action over his force having to cover the gaps in mental health services. Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall, threatened to sue his local NHS trusts over a lack of mental health beds. He said he would no longer tolerate a practice he regards as unlawful.

In one case a mentally ill victim of sexual assault had to be held in a police cell as no bed was available in a hospital, the Exeter Express and Echo reported.

We know all about the still on-going bed crisis and the dangerous and outrageous demands being placed upon the police in Norfolk and Suffolk every day by the cuts of the radical redesign. People were detained illegally so often that Norfolk Constabulary even drafted a standard letter of complaint to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). NSFT cut its crisis and community teams and beds, closed its assertive outreach and homeless teams and its hostels. This is the result. The architect of the radical redesign was promoted to a national job.

Read the story in full on the Guardian website by clicking on the image below:



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