Police Federation chair calls for urgent review of “growing mental health crisis”

John Apter: chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales

John Apter: chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales

The national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales has called for a review of what he has called a “growing mental health crisis” as new figures revealed police officers dealt with 28% more cases in the last four years. An Institute for Government Performance Tracker 2019 survey found the number of mental health incidents involving police officers rose from 385,206 to 494,159 between 2014-2018. There was also an 13% increase in the number of individuals taken to a place of safety by officers under the Mental Health Act.

Chair John Apter said: “This country’s in the grip of a growing mental health crisis and my colleagues are at the very forefront of trying to protect and support vulnerable people. These figures show we’ve reached beyond tipping point. We would welcome a wider public investigation into these important issues.”

Apter continued: “My colleagues are professional, dedicated individuals who would never turn their backs on somebody in crisis. Most people think a police officer’s time is used in dealing solely with crime. However, about 80% is spent dealing with non-crime related incidents involving mental health situations. These situations are extremely complex and often involve individuals in such a state of despair they may wish to end their own lives or hurt other people. I personally know from 27 years of service as a police officer just how emotionally distressing these situations are for my colleagues.”

Further, Apter stated: “There’s simply not enough investment in the mental health support system for the right number of qualified health professionals to give proper assistance to those who need it. Police officers regularly fill in for shortfalls in the mental health support system, even when we’re perhaps not the most appropriate service.”

Apter concluded: “Those individuals with mental health issues should instead be afforded the proper care and attention which welfare services should be providing. They are patients, not prisoners. We urgently require a fresh investigation into this growing issue where the emphasis must be on providing the best medical option for those who are in desperate need.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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