Mental health servicesare now so stretched that the police are having to plug the gaps, leading to vulnerable people being treated in a “profoundly improper way”, a damning report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has found.
With ambulances often unavailable, people suffering from mental health issues are often picked up by police officers and find themselves being locked up with criminals instead of being given the care they need, the report said.
Publishing his annual State of Policing report, Sir Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, painted a bleak picture of mental health provision in Britain today, but said it was not the police’s job to pick up the pieces.
He said: “The severe problems in mental health provision in this country are not only failing those who need treatment; they also create an unacceptable strain on the police and imperil public safety.”
Sir Tom suggested that until mental health provision had parity with physical health services, the vulnerable would be let down and the public would be put at risk.
Sir Tom said: “This is an unacceptable drain on police resources, and it is a profoundly improper way to treat vulnerable people who need care and help.
“Until mental health is given the same priority as physical health, in resources including funding, the police will continue to play too large a role dealing with people with mental health problems.”
“In a well ordered and compassionate society we should not rely on law enforcement to support people who need medical care.”