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Police officers called to 15 mental health emergencies a day in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 06:29 03 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:48 03 November 2020

Suffolk police control room where mental health flags were places on more than 15,000 incidents since 2018. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE

Suffolk police control room where mental health flags were places on more than 15,000 incidents since 2018. Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE

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The pressure mental health emergencies put on police has been revealed - after statistics showed police dealt with 15,000 such calls since 2018, at a rate of 15 incidents a day.

Suffolk police have dealt with more than 15,000 mental health issues over the past three years. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk police have dealt with more than 15,000 mental health issues over the past three years. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Figures revealed by a Freedom of Information request showed that officers have been called to around 16 incidents a day related to mental health in 2020.

That is up on the previous two years, where officers dealt with approximately 14 mental health incidents a day.

July, August and September 2020 have been the three highest months in the past three years for mental health incidents, with the police responding to 20 calls a day.

Chief Inspector Nigel Huddlestone, from Suffolk Constabulary’s contact and control room, said that mental health incidents take up a “significant” amount of resources.

“Incidents in which mental health is a factor are a significant part of our day to day work,” he said.

“Suffolk Constabulary regularly assesses and reviews the impact that mental health demand has on our already stretched police resources.

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“We are continually working to gain a better understanding of the demand we face in this area.

“Our officers strive every day to protect the vulnerable, often in difficult and complex situations on the frontline, working with our health partners to ensure people receive the treatment and support they need.”

The police also have mental health specialists in their control room to advise officers when calls come in.

Ch Insp Huddleston said mental health nurses also travel with patrolling officers.

He added: “As well as our triage service in the control room, we also have mental health nurses accompanying officers in some response vehicles, and we also provide ongoing officer training.

“We continue to work closely with our partners in the mental health community at a local and regional working group level as well as at a national level, in line with our mental health action plan.

“It is only through a collective effort will we make sure that those who need mental health support receive the very best service possible.”

Earlier on in the year, Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said the number of mental health-related calls the constabulary receives “is of concern, as police officers are not mental health professionals”.


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