The findings and recommendations of the Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing have been welcomed by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and mental health organisations.
The report, reported on Mental Health Today last week, concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) must improve its response to mental health to reduce the likelihood of deaths or serious injury occurring in the future.
Opportunity to make significant progress
It made 28 recommendations to improve standards, falling under three areas for action: leadership, frontline and interagency working.
MPS Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (pictured), welcomed the report’s findings and its recommendations. He said: “Lord Adebowale's report provides powerful evidence of the challenges that mental health issues present to the Metropolitan Police. It sets out clearly the frequency with which our officers are asked to support people at times of mental health crisis.
"I set up this Commission to help us improve the way we deal with these challenges. We now have an opportunity to make significant progress. I am very grateful for the Commission’s report, and now wish to spend some time considering the findings. Broadly I can say that I accept the recommendations the Commission has made.
“London is a remarkable and vibrant city which has its own unique complexities, not least its ever changing and developing population," Commissioner Hogan-Howe continued. "This naturally adds to the complexities of delivering effective service not only for the police, but also for health.
“We deal with over 5.5 million calls for the police every year, and some 300,000 people pass through our custody suites. If one in four people in London need mental health service support, the need for greater understanding and effective partnership working is evident. I believe this will be a significant support to the Metropolitan Police, and to policing nationally, in addressing some of the most difficult issues connected with mental health and its substantial implications for modern policing.”
Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, also welcomed the report. "The report is a stark reminder that dealing with mental health issues is a core part of modern policing. But police officers need high quality training and constant support from health and social services. They cannot be left to deal with urgent mental health cases alone. And it is the duty of all health and wellbeing boards and clinical commissioning groups to ensure people with mental health needs are offered timely support to prevent crises where possible and provide immediate and effective help when they need it.
"We welcome [the] report and hope that its recommendations are followed both in London and across the country to give vulnerable people the care and support they need when they need it most."
Safety must be number one priority
Meanwhile, Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, said that the report sets out the standards of care that mental health service users should expect.
"For all professionals - in any capacity - who come into contact with people experiencing a mental health crisis, the number one priority must be ensuring they get safe, timely, compassionate care which is appropriate for their mental health as well as their physical presentation. Managing the dual priorities of public safety and personal safety can be complex and challenging, but we owe it to service users and their families to get it right.
"[This] report includes a clear recommendation that people experiencing mental ill health should be treated with dignity, and as a person who is unwell, not as a criminal, and the Mental Health Network fully endorses this. There are many examples of good practice across the country where joined-up work between health services, social care and the police is getting it right for service users and their families, and the Mental Health Network is supporting the promotion of these examples of best practice throughout England.
"Only by joining the dots to anticipate the needs of individuals and communities and to plan appropriately can we ensure people experiencing a mental health crisis get the appropriate, caring response they need at one of the most difficult times of their lives."