22 April 2024

Police response to mental health demand is being looked at ‘in great detail’

Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson has responded to a letter from Home Secretary Suella Braverman after she raised concerns that mental health demand places on policing.

Mr Wilkinson said the letter, sent to all 43 Chief Constables and PCCs, was extremely timely after the national debate was sparked last month when the Metropolitan Police Service said it would no longer attend unnecessary mental health calls.

The Met was looking at adopting the principles of a Right Care, Right Person (RCRP) approach pioneered by Humberside Police in 2020 – a strategy of deploying officers to only the most essential mental health-related calls and diverting the rest of the cases to dedicated health professionals.

In Wiltshire, the RCRP approach is being considered and is being looked at in great detail, the PCC reassured, with the wellbeing of Wiltshire’s community at the core of the discussion.

Mr Wilkinson continued: “It is vital vulnerable people who are experiencing mental health crisis have the best possible medical support possible but that should not fall to police officers, who are not mental health professionals.

“I am following the Right Care, Right Person (RCRP) national debate closely and my office has spoken with Humberside Police, and its OPCC, to look at the benefits of this approach – it is not about removing a policing service but ensuring the right agency deals with the vulnerable person in the first place.

“As PCC, I have a duty to ensure Wiltshire Police uses finite policing resources in the most effective and efficient manner – and that isn’t having officers responding to mental health crisis, unless there is a threat to life, or sitting for hours in A&E with a vulnerable person when they should be tackling crime in our communities.

“However, change does not happen overnight and I must stress both my office and the Force are committed to working with all of our partners to ensure the right health provision is in place before steps in this direction are made.

“But I have been clear the burden should not be placed upon the police service to fill a void from other agencies – and Wiltshire Police is carefully looking at this in detail.”

Written by
Andy Munns
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Written by Andy Munns