The Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has today published its report, Policing and mental health. The report found that the prevalence of people with mental health illness in the criminal justice system is too high, and calls for changes to be implemented to ensure that nobody who has reached crisis point should be put in a police cell or be transported in a police van because appropriate health services aren’t available.
Sophie Corlett, Head of External Relations for the mental health charity Mind, said:
“We welcome the findings of today’s report, which highlights some of the real problems for people when they experience a mental health crisis. Nobody who has reached crisis point should be put in a police cell or be transported in a police van because appropriate health services aren’t available. We welcome the emphasis over the last year on addressing this, particularly through the Crisis Care Concordat which Mind is co-delivering.
“The Concordat brings together local services to support people in mental health crisis in a more joined-up way. Through this initiative, some areas of the country have in the last year dramatically reduced the number of people being kept in police cells. Some areas have reported that they have been able to accommodate everybody within health services, which is as it should be. This proves it can be done.
“We also believe that more investment in good quality mental health care could reduce the number of people who even reach crisis point. Prevention is always the best option for people themselves, for the economy and for our hard pressed emergency services.
“Mental health will still remain core police business. Police need training in mental health awareness, so that they can better respond to people with mental health problems in whatever capacity they come into contact with them in the community. We also know that realistically, police will sometimes be the first responders when people reach mental health crisis. We need to ensure they are equipped with the skills and expertise to do this job well.”