Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today used a campaign visit to a dry ski slope to set out plans to support policing through a mental health boost in an appeal to SNP voters frustrated with the SNP's record of complacency and distraction.
During a visit to Dundee, Willie Rennie revealed commitments to:
- Recruit specialist mental health staff to work alongside the police and take on more of the workload when police officers are required to act like social workers of last resort.
- Expand the Community Triage and the Mental Health Hub services so that those suffering mental distress are supported by a trained professional as soon as possible.
- Ensure the police have the resources to conduct annual staff surveys, so that emerging issues can be identified and addressed.
- Police officers and support staff will benefit from the party's wider mental health plans and new initiatives to support their own wellbeing, including a mental health first aider in every workplace to support colleagues.
Commenting, Willie Rennie said:
"Scottish Liberal Democrats have exposed seriously damning evidence showing the strain our emergency services are under. They carry that burden because they work under a government that's distracted.
"The lack of support elsewhere leaves the police picking up the pieces of the mental health crisis. Officers spend whole shifts accompanying people in distress to A&E. That's not just a problem in terms of time and resources. That's a really difficult shift for someone who is not a mental health specialist.
"That impact shows. We uncovered skyrocketing mental health related absences, and research showing almost half of officer suffer exhaustion.
"Amidst all that, the Justice Secretary had the audacity to say that he was "very satisfied" with the support offered to police officers and staff struggling with mental ill health. That's just frighteningly complacent.
"We need to get back to a position where officers can focus on solving crimes and protecting communities. I want to recruit specialist mental health staff to work alongside the police so that officers do not simply find themselves acting like social workers of last resort. That's better for officers, better for communities and better for people in need.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats will put recovery first. We will give officers the support they need to do their job, helping them and the communities they work in.".