The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has written to Health and Human Services saying their officers will no longer attend mental health calls.
While Sir Mark Rowley said officers would continue to be present if life was at risk – the move is intended to give officers more time for their core duties.
He added that this would prevent police officers from taking on health duties, reports The Guardian.
He has provided health services through August 31, when the Met begins banning it.
In his letter, Sir Mark says: “It is important to stress the urgency of implementation in London.”
“Every day that we allow the status quo to persist, we collectively fail patients and fail to make officers succeed.”
“We’re failing Londoners twice.” We’re failing them first by sending police officers, not medical professionals, to people who are in mental health crisis and expecting them to do their best when they’re not are the right people to deal with the patient.
“We are failing Londoners a second time by taking away a lot of the time officers spend on preventing and investigating crime and dealing with victims properly to fill gaps for others.”
“The extent to which we are collectively failing Londoners and making unreasonable demands on the police is very clear.”
Officials spend an average of 10 hours with a patient when they’re covered by the Mental Health Act – and that happens 500-600 times a month in London, a Met spokesman said.
Data from a nationwide police study suggests officers spend nearly a million hours each year waiting in hospitals for mental illness patients to be screened.
That is equivalent to taking care of 500,000 cases of domestic violence or 600,000 burglaries.
A similar program has been in place at Humberside Police since 2020. She has employed mental health workers from the charity Mind in the police control room to handle some calls.
An inspection in Humberside found that this had saved police 1,100 police hours a month and the public were receiving “more timely care from the most appropriate care provider”.
In a statement, the Met said: “Where there is an imminent threat to life, officers will continue to respond.”
“In the interests of patients and the public, we urgently need to redress the imbalance of responsibility that leaves law enforcement officers to carry out health responsibilities.”
“Health services must prioritize mental health care and allow officers to focus on their core responsibilities: preventing and detecting crime, protecting communities and supporting victims.”
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