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Government backs reduction in police response to mental health incidents despite safety warnings

Ministers are backing a potentially “dangerous” new model allowing police to reduce their response to mental health incidents after failing to formally assess the risk of harm or death.

Officials are monitoring any “adverse incomes” from the National Partnership Agreement, which will see police forces stop attending health calls unless there is a safety risk or a crime being committed.

Policing minister Chris Philp said a pilot by Humberside Police gave him confidence in national roll-out, which aims to “make sure that people suffering mental health crisis get a health response and not a police response”.

Mental health charities and experts have warned the plans could be “dangerous”, and a coroner raised the alarm following a woman’s suicide after police failed to respond to her disappearance.

A report published last month said action was needed to prevent future deaths, warning that the new model could “allow each agency to regard such a situation as the other’s responsibility, whilst nobody is on the ground attempting to retrieve a seriously ill patient”.

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Source: The Independent, 26 July 2023


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