Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, has today published his annual assessment of policing in England and Wales. Police are being used as the first resort/emergency response in cases of mental ill-health because of cuts to mental health services. Commenting, Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said:
“It is an absolute travesty that we are still seeing police, rather than healthcare professionals, responding when people experience a mental health crisis. These are people suffering from an illness, they are not criminals and should never be made to feel that way. Just imagine how much additional worry and distress this causes to people when they are already in a very vulnerable position.
“As a Health Minister in the last Government, I was proud to introduce the Crisis Care Concordat which made important progress in cutting the number of people detained inappropriately in police cells because they are experiencing a mental health crisis - but unless mental health services have the resources and staff that they desperately need, I fear we will not be able to bring this damaging practice to an end.
“Of course sometimes it is inevitable that police officers will be first on the scene of a crisis, and where this happens, they must be given support to work closely with mental health services to ensure we get people the help they need, as quickly as possible.”