PCC Response to Independent Mental Health Act Review (6 Dec 2018)

Following today's (06/12) release of the recommendations emerging from the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson said:

"As I have highlighted for some time in West Yorkshire, police cells are not the right place for those suffering from mental illness and it is very encouraging that this latest publication explicitly recognises this.

"Over the years of continued Government austerity, the police have become a catch all service, which has placed enormous strain on capacity and the capability to respond, as evidenced in the recent HMICFRS report.

"Whilst I know officers and staff across West Yorkshire continue to act with great compassion and will always help those in our communities who are most vulnerable, mental health is an area which should and must be addressed by trained professionals, wherever possible.

"It is a subject that remains a priority in my police and crime plan and is also measured as one of the four key outcomes around how it is dealt with.

"Since 2015 we have established a Criminal Justice and Mental Health Forum chaired within my office, which contains a range of different partners that work collectively to support people with mental health issues and who find themselves in contact with the criminal justice system, as either potential offenders or victims.

"It has helped us to seek opportunities to intervene at the earliest stage and consider alternative approaches, such as triage schemes where officers are supported in their response by a trained mental health nurse who have been partially funded through my budget.

"More recently, I have personally discussed matters of mental health during a meeting with our Force's senior leaders and have also visited the Mental Health suites in Bradford to see how we are currently handling these important issues locally.

"This latest publication comes hot on the heels of the HMICFRS report 'Picking up the Pieces' and is exposing a true picture of the pressures that exist and what more now needs to be done."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019