Police are having to ignore crimes because they are being swamped by calls about mental illness, it has been claimed.
According to the report, police forces are bearing the burden of a “national crisis” in mental health care because GPs, social workers and community health workers go home at 5pm.
Police are using up an average of three hours per mental health incident – for example, transporting people to hospital or waiting in accident and emergency for them to get help, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services found.
The Metropolitan Police – the UK’s largest force – sends an officer to respond to a mental health call every 12 minutes.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham said there are many instances where police officers are sitting with patients in A&E awaiting assessment or beds.
The research, reported by the Daily Mail, found that half of mental health patients are transported to a place of safety by police, not the ambulance service.
Billingham said other services need to stop relying on the 24/7 availability of the police.
There were 97,796 crimes and 431,060 incidents involving mental health concerns in the year to June 2017.
A government spokesman said: “We are investing £2bn in mental health services, including in A&E departments, and community crisis services.”