Met Police attending more robberies as fewer officers deal with mental health call-outs

The Met is now attending far fewer call-outs where mental health is a factor. (PA Wire)
The Met is now attending far fewer call-outs where mental health is a factor. (PA Wire)

The Met is responding to more robberies now that it is attending fewer mental health related call outs, the force has said.

Scotland Yard launched its Right Care, Right Person plan with the aim of reducing officer hours spent at scenes where health professionals could better cope.

The result is 6,000 fewer deployments to cases where people are deemed to be in a mental health crisis every month.

That equates to 34,000 officer hours which are now being used largely to tackle violent crime.

Six months on from the launch of Right Care, Right Person, officers are responding to 18% more robbery calls and, the Met says, getting to victims faster.

Police are also spending 21% more time on scene with victims of a range of crimes compared to the same period last year, according to figures from Scotland Yard.

The Met had found it was increasingly responding to mental health crisis and other health-related issues leaving it overstretched.

Police argued Londoners who needed medical help were being attended to by officers instead of expert healthcare professionals.

Under the new policy they will not attend if a patient goes missing from a mental healthcare facility unless there is a danger to the public.

They will also not carry out a welfare check if a mental health patient fails to attend an appointment. However, they will deploy officers if there is a ‘risk to life’.

Detective Superintendent Alistair Vanner, the lead for Mental Health at the Met, said: “I am proud of how this scheme has been implemented in the last six months. Working closely with the NHS, London Ambulance Service and social care services across London, we are seeing a reduction in officers attending immediate urgency calls for health crises.

“This means that our frontline officers are able to attend calls for crimes such as burglary, where their skills are much better suited.

“People experiencing a mental health crisis deserve the right response from trained medical professionals and should not feel like they are being criminalised in their time of crisis or need.”

London Ambulance Service Chief executive Daniel Elkeles said six new ambulances aimed directly at helping mental health patients in crisis would be on the road soon as his staff took on some of the extra work now that police have pulled back.

He said: “We have worked closely and collaboratively with the Metropolitan Police on the implementation of Right Care Right Person to ensure our staff were not put at risk and people get a better response     to their needs.

“We’re now receiving between 200 and 250 referrals a day from the police of individuals to whom they would have previously responded, but who in reality are patients that my service and the wider NHS should be caring for. We have put in place systems to make sure we can assess these additional patients for an LAS response or referral to more appropriate NHS services for treatment.

“In the next few weeks we will also introduce six new dedicated mental health ambulances which will allow the Police to take fewer patients to hospital and free up more of their resources.”

Emmanuel Kankam, a Clinician on the NHS Section 136 advice line at North London Mental Health Partnership said: “This shift suggests a growing tendency from police officers to explore alternative options before resorting to detention, potentially resulting in fewer individuals being involuntarily detained.”