STAFFORDSHIRE’S police tsar has taken radical measures to tackle the time officers spend dealing with people with mental health issues.
Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis announced he had appointed a specialist mental health programme manager to work on a solution to the ‘thousands’ of hours spent in around 15,000 incidents police were called to last year involving people with mental health issues.
“The police service tends to be the first port of call when such people need assistance, or find themselves in difficulty, and I think this needs to change,” said Mr Ellis.
“Police officers do have a role in stabilising incidents and keeping people safe but then need the appropriate service to take over.
“Thousands of hours of officer time is spent dealing with these issues when they should be out supporting their communities.”
Mr Ellis said a proper 24/7 solution was required supporting people with mental health issues and allowing police officers to do ‘the job they are qualified to do’.
The Staffordshire Review, A case-by-case report into the extent of the issue commissioned by the PCC, showed the impact of dealing with situations of people with mental health issues was ‘significant’ on operational policing.
Mr Ellis said mental health was a ‘huge’ issue across the UK and he wanted to do something serious about it in Staffordshire.
“We’ve now got an expert on mental health working with us to significantly increase the pace of business in this crucial area of work and programme manage real progress,” he said. “We need to stop criminalising people who are ill and release police officer time.
“This is a big challenge but I am hopeful we can make a real difference.”