Home Secretary acts to reduce time officers spend dealing with mental health related incidents

Dyfed Powys Police Federation has welcomed plans to remove the burden of dealing with mental health cases and vulnerable people from its members.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has written to the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner outlining the Government’s plans to free up more time to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

Ms Bravermen acknowledged that officers were often tied up with non-police demands which left them with less time to protect their communities.

She said: “The Prime Minister and I want to see more police officers on the beat, investigating and preventing crime. 

“Mental health demand pressures on many forces are taking officer time away from fighting crime. People in mental health crisis need to be seen by healthcare professionals to get the appropriate assessment or treatment in the right environment.”

The Home Secretary said the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was investing £150 million to improve its mental health crisis care response and shift the burden away from the police service.

This includes £7 million on specialised mental health ambulances, with the remaining £143 million for new, or to improve existing, mental health crisis response infrastructure.

The funding will provide more than 30 schemes for crisis cafes, crisis houses and other similar safe spaces as well as more than 20 new or improved health-based places of safety.

Ms Braverman said: “In many situations it is important that police have swift access to refer individuals into professional mental health care. 

“I am aware of different models, such as street triage and co-location of professionals, that are in place across the country and can support this.

“I therefore welcome the commitment by DHSC to develop the right triage methods that will help remove police involvement earlier in the process of responding to mental health incidents.”

She said the DHSC, Home Office, National Health Service England and the National Police Chiefs’ Council were developing a National Partnership Agreement based on the ‘Right Care, Right Person’ model which operates in Humberside and hoped to deliver by the end of next month.

She added they were also working on a toolkit containing a range of products to help police forces implement the ‘Right Care, Right Person’ approach, which they anticipate being ready by June 2023. 

“Once the National Partnership Agreement has been finalised, I encourage forces to work closely with local health partners to identify how to implement the model safely and effectively in your area,” said Ms Braverman.

Dyfed PowysPolice Federation chair Gareth Jones welcomed the Government’s intervention.

He said: “Too often our members find themselves dealing with cases which should really be covered by social workers or mental health services.

“If someone phones for an ambulance and finds none are available, they call us. If a vulnerable family needs help outside office hours, they call us. We will never say no to a call for help but clearly we have reached the point where something has to give.

“Freeing up our members to catch criminals and solve crime would be a great way to start increasing levels of public confidence and would also help improve morale and wellbeing across policing so lets hope we start to see positive results from the new measures in the very near future.”