Report praises police on mental health

Police officers are recognised by the Care Quality Commission for their compassion

A national report published by the Care Quality Commission has praised police for their work in mental health.

The report, ‘Right here, right now’, looked at people’s experiences of help, care and support during a mental health crisis.
It was based on feedback from almost 1,800 people with experience of a mental health crisis, along with local area inspections looking at how services work together, surveys of service providers and a review of national data.

It said: ‘Feedback from people who came into contact with the police showed the service in a more positive light than many of the specialist mental health services.
‘It is encouraging that a professional working outside of specialist services can get it right and this should act as a challenge to those working in the health service to do the same.’

The report showed that 65 per cent of people asked (104) said they had received the help they needed in a timely way by police.

It went on to say: ‘The use of police cells as a ‘place of safety’ for people in crisis has fallen significantly, but we found that people under 18 can have problems accessing suitable places of safety.
‘GP, ambulances and the police were all perceived as being more successful in providing caring and empathetic responses to people in crisis.’

Mental health lead at the College of Policing, Inspector Michael Brown, said:

“It is encouraging, but also unsurprising, to see that people who come into contact with police who have mental health issues find officers compassionate and supportive.
“The report found that police and paramedics are often most caring and accessible to those in crisis and this is a reflection of the dedication of officers to protect the public.”

Inspector Brown is leading a review of training, guidance and research for police officers responding to victims, witnesses and offenders with mental health issues.

The review will inform an update of police guidance known as Authorised Professional Practice which the College expects to go out to consultation later this year.

The APP for mental health will become integral to the National Police Promotion Framework (NPPF) training products, selection, assessment and examinations. And appropriate assessment of skills and competence around mental health policing will be built into existing professional assessment frameworks at all levels of the service. This will result in mental health and capacity law featuring more prominently in the legal education of police officers, including those seeking promotion to sergeant and inspector.

The College of Policing has published a report estimating demand on police time, which includes multiple references to mental health work including:

  • A national estimate of almost 4m mental health related incidents
  • The numbers of sec 135 and 136 orders have risen over the last 5 years in England
  • Estimates are that S136 detention in police cells alone require 60,000 officer/staff hours per year.

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