Commissioner welcomes watchdog report on mental health

The Commissioner for Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime in Staffordshire, Matthew Ellis said today he was glad it was finally being acknowledged that police ‘cannot mend a broken mental health system’.

All too often over-stretched and over-whelmed police officers cannot respond appropriately and those in mental health crisis do not get the help they need, says the report out today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.

This is an area in which the Commissioner has done much to bring about real change, so that those in mental health crisis get the help they need, when they need it and the police are not left to pick up the pieces.

Mr Ellis first kicked-off work in 2014 to understand the scale of the issues police faced with regard to dealing with those with mental health issues and the resulting ‘Staffordshire Report’ prompted government to take national action.

The Commissioner will launch a fresh report by social justice charity Nacro early in the New Year giving an updated perspective of where policing and other agencies stand now in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in dealing with those in mental health crisis.

"It’s encouraging to see this new report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate and the fact it calls for a radical re-think and long-term solution to a problem we’ve been highlighting for years now in Staffordshire.

"I agree entirely that officers will always do their best to respond and help those in need. They are doing their best in difficult circumstances, but those in mental health crisis need expert support, which the police are not equipped to give and which is not their place to give," said Mr Ellis.

The Nacro research will provide a better view of the level of demand being placed currently on the police and other agencies in responding to the needs of people with mental health problems or other vulnerabilities in the county.

The report will highlight some surprising results and put forward a number of recommendations, including strengthening information sharing and joint working arrangements between agencies, improving access to support services and providing officers and staff with better training.

Mr Ellis added: "I hope we can continue to make real progress on tackling this issue for the benefit of local policing, those in crisis and their families, but it’s also great to see national change being called for as a matter of urgency."

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