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New report recognises pressure on police forces

A national report released today has found that police forces across the country are increasingly used as the default service to respond to people with mental health problems.

The report, commissioned by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), concluded that mental health services are failing people when they need the help the most and all-too-often, overstretched and overwhelmed officers are being deployed at times where other services should take responsibility.

While the report praised the police for “doing a good job in difficult circumstances” and “dealing with mental health calls with care and compassion”, it raised grave concerns about the demand on officers and called for fundamental change in the way those with mental health problems are supported by the state.

In August 2018, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) launched a Control Room Triage service which is co-funded by three Greater Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

The service – delivered in partnership with NHS professionals – reduces demand on staff by using the expertise of trained mental health professionals who have been relocated to GMP’s communications centre. The staff provide expert clinical advice to support officers with decision making processes and if appropriate, mitigate the unnecessary deployment of officers.

The triage service ensures people living with mental health issues get the care they need sooner rather than later, and allows police to protect the most vulnerable at times of crisis, ensuring the best outcomes for them at the earliest opportunity.