Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today revealed “startling” new figures showing the scale of demand being placed on Scotland’s police officers by the ongoing mental health crisis.
In correspondence with the party, Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr revealed that Police Scotland’s Demand and Productivity Unit undertook a national mental health soft data survey in late 2019.
The report, due to be published next week found that:
- The average time taken for officers to complete a mental health related incident is 7 hours and 20 minutes and;
- Since 2018 40.2% of people in police custody answered yes to either previously or currently experiencing a mental health episode.
Speaking after he pressed the First Minister on the toll mental health issues take on police officers, Mr Rennie said:
“These figures are startling. Police officers are often the first to respond for those in serious mental distress. But this shows that too often they are the only people available to help. They have been left to pick up the pieces of Scotland’s mental health crisis.
“Officers should not have to devote an entire shift to process these incidents. These people would be better looked after by a mental health professional, with the right training and resource behind them.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats secured a commitment to police stations getting a share of 800 new dedicated mental health professionals. 3 years after that promise was made by the Scottish Government, they've got 12. That's pitiful.
“They are also refusing to share how many new mental health support workers Police Scotland will ultimately receive. We have been forced to take that question all the way to the Information Commissioner.
“Ministers need to step up and take responsibility for Scotland’s mental health crisis."