Emergency services dealing with thousands of mental health incidents
A Freedom of Information request has shown Lancashire Police attended more than 34,000 mental health related incidents between April 2011 and 2016, while the North West Ambulance Service attended more than 163,000 incidents flagged as having a “mental health tag code” around the same period.
Police saw the biggest pressure in the financial years of 2011 and 2012 with 10,713 and 9,435 calls respectively.
In 2013 this fell to 6,416 and in 2014 to 3,429 but the 2015 financial year saw a significant increase again to 4,394 incidents - all at a time the police are drastically having to cut their resources.
Officers also had to detain 1,375 people under the mental health act between January 2014 and August 2016.
A spokesman said: “Sometimes we have seen people with mental health crisis detained in police custody because there is nowhere else available and agencies are unclear on who has the responsibility for this. Clearly when no crime has been committed, it cannot be right for someone who is unwell to be in police custody.
“While it is of course a police duty to deal with any offences committed and protect the public from harm, it is the responsibility of health and welfare agencies to assist those in mental health crisis.
“While there will always be exceptional circumstances, often the police have to step in to pick up the pieces where other services are unavailable.
“We need to try to encourage better cooperation between the police and other agencies and provide clarity about roles and responsibilities to best protect people.”