London Police to Stop Responding to Mental Health Calls

    London Police to Stop Responding to Mental Health Calls
    Last updated May 29, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • Starting this upcoming September, London's Metropolitan Police (Met) will stop responding to emergency calls related to mental health incidents unless there is an "immediate threat to life."[1]
    • Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said the decision was made due to police officers, who reportedly have collectively spent 10K hours per month dealing with mental health calls, are not the "right people" to deal with such a situation, claiming they are "failing" those in need by not sending "medical professionals."[2]
    • Rowley continued in the letter, written to health and social care services, by stressing the need for the Met to "redress the imbalance of responsibility" and urging health services to take "primacy" for caring for the mentally ill.[3]
    • Rowley emphasized that the Met is "failing Londoners twice" by first, meeting those suffering from mental health issues with police officers rather than medical professionals, and second, taking officers' time away from focusing on prohibiting crime.[4]
    • A report in November 2022 found police in the region of Humberside saved 1.1K police hours a month and provided "more timely care" to those in need after implementing a similar policy.[3]
    • Despite this, Zoe Billingham, the chairwoman of the National Health Services' mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said she believed the move could be "really, really dangerous," with the Met potentially causing a mental health service "vacuum" and a "terrible quandary" for those in need.[5]


    Narrative A

    Reports show that the police, as they have been increasingly called upon to assist those in need concerning mental health, have done well. However, the police cannot be the fix for a broken system. If people are to get the help they really deserve, there needs to be a radical longer-term solution involving other public services. It's not fair to law enforcement to be the last resort for these types of calls.

    Narrative B

    The move by the Met is alarming and raises questions surrounding what the policy change will mean for vulnerable individuals. In reality, it will be practically difficult to enforce a sweeping ban on providing mental healthcare, and whether an officer will act on someone’s distress will likely be based upon day-to-day subjectivity.

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