Met Police to stop attending emergency calls linked to mental health in bid to 'focus on crime'

29 May 2023, 08:19 | Updated: 29 May 2023, 09:19

Metropolitan Police officers will not attend emergency calls if they are linked to mental health incidents from September.
Metropolitan Police officers will not attend emergency calls if they are linked to mental health incidents from September. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Metropolitan Police officers will not attend emergency calls linked to mental health incidents from September.

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The force's commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has written to health and social care services to say police will no longer attend after August 31 unless there is a threat to life.

The move is designed to free up officers to spend more time on their core roles, rather than dealing with patients in need of medical help from experts.

It comes after Humberside Police introduced a similar policy, known as Right Care, Right Person (RCRP) in 2020, with mental health professionals dealing with calls.

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Police will no longer attend after August 31 unless there is a threat to life
Police will no longer attend after August 31 unless there is a threat to life. Picture: Alamy

In his letter, seen by The Guardian, the commissioner wrote: "I have asked my team that the Met introduce RCRP this summer and withdraw from health-related calls by no later than August 31.

"It is important to stress the urgency of implementing RCRP in London. Every day that we permit the status quo to remain, we are collectively failing patients and are not setting up officers to succeed."

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He continued: "We are failing Londoners twice. We are failing them first by sending police officers, not medical professionals, to those in mental health crisis, and expecting them to do their best in circumstances where they are not the right people to be dealing with the patient.

"We are failing Londoners a second time by taking large amounts of officer time away from preventing and solving crime, as well as dealing properly with victims, in order to fill gaps for others.

"The extent to which we are collectively failing Londoners and inappropriately placing demand on policing is very stark."

He said the force received a record number of 999 calls on April 28-29, but only 30% of them were "crime related".

Sir Mark Rowley
Sir Mark Rowley. Picture: Alamy

A statement from the Met Police to the paper said: "Where there is an immediate threat to life, officers will continue to respond.

"In the interests of patients and the public, we urgently need to redress the imbalance of responsibility, where police officers are left delivering health responsibilities.

"Health services must take primacy for caring for the mentally ill, allowing officers to focus on their core responsibilities to prevent and detect crime, and keep communities safe and support victims."

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