Police officers responded to 15,000 incidents in Staffordshire in 2012 involving people with mental health issues – many of which could have been dealt with by more appropriate agencies.
In work commissioned by Matthew Ellis in early 2013, a case by case report highlighted the scale of the problem, how much time officers spend dealing with mental health issues and the significant impact this has on operational policing. Click here to download the Staffordshire Report (PDF, 0.5mb)
The Staffordshire Report came from a series of meetings the Commissioner held with frontline officers to discuss the issues that affected them most.
It has focused ongoing discussions with mental health agencies who are working to create round-the-clock response teams, working closely with officers. A mental health programme manager was appointed by the PCC in September to increase the pace of the work.
The Report has also been used as a benchmark by the Home Secretary to highlight the problem nationally.
Mr Ellis said: “Mental health is a huge issue across the whole of the UK. In Staffordshire, I said we needed to do something serious about it.
“We must stop criminalising people who are ill, free up police time and ensure officers are not tied up with issues they’re unqualified to deal with.
“It’s bad for the individuals themselves and for the tax-payer as nearly 20 per cent of time is being spent by the police doing things they shouldn’t be doing.
“Police officers do have a role in stabilising incidents and keeping people safe but then need the appropriate service to take over. Thousands of hours of officer time is spent dealing with these issues when they should be out supporting their communities.
“I’m pleased that the Staffordshire Report has stimulated such incredible public debate. I get the sense for the first time that things are starting to move forward. I would hope in the next six months in Staffordshire we’ll come to an agreement where the NHS, myself and other organisations will invest money into new 24/7 services. Then we can stop people with mental health issues being locked up and get police doing what most people want – which is being out there, being visible and catching criminals.”
Matthew Ellis – Police and Crime Commissioner
A series of ‘PCC Spotlight’ briefings which highlights promising work that has been identified among Police and Crime Commissioners is now available to download. They share examples of practice that other areas may wish to develop, and aim to inform the future development of the PCC role.