PCC welcomes PM's proposals for mental health
Matthew Scott has welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May's speech on mental health, made at the Royal Society in London on 9 January.
The Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, who is also Deputy Lead for the APCC’s Mental Health Portfolio Group, said:
'I am delighted that the Prime Minister has made mental health one of her top priorities in office. Many of us will suffer from a mental health condition during the course of our lives. It is recognised at the moment to be around one in four people but with improved awareness and the stigma being reduced, that number may rise as more begin to present with different problems. However, it is vital to ensure that there is the support in place to help these individuals, as only a minority of those one in four will ever get assistance.
'During her time as Home Secretary, the Prime Minister helped to shine a light on the mental health when it comes to policing and the demands it was placing on police time. She has supported forces in trying to address the growth in the use of section 136 of the Mental Health Act to detain people in police cells. Later this year, due to legislation she introduced, officers will be banned from detaining children in custody under section 136, and it will be an absolute last resort for adults. I believe that it should be banned entirely, but the onus is now on the NHS to work with police forces to come up with new solutions to keeping mentally ill vulnerable people locked up in cells.
'As I have said on many occasions, Kent Police spends roughly one third of all of its time dealing with cases involving mental health. That is not fair on officers, who receive some training in these matters but are not health professionals. It is also not right for the vulnerable person as they need to be getting care from the right person. We have been successful in securing some money from the Department of Health to improve the provision of health-based places of safety in the county, and I have funded projects that will reduce demands on policing.
'The Prime Minister’s proposals will, in time, do the same.'
In her speech on Monday, Mrs May proposed:
- every secondary school be offered mental health first aid training and new trials to look at how to strengthen the links between schools and local NHS mental health staff
- a major thematic review of children and adolescent mental health services across the country, led by the Care Quality Commission
- a new partnership with employers to improve mental health support in the workplace
- £15 million investment to provide and promote new models of community – based care such as crisis cafes and community clinics
- plans to rapidly expand treatment by investing in and expanding digital mental health services
- new ways to right the injustices people with mental health problems face
Mr Scott added: 'I will work with Kent Police, NHS bodies, charities and others to develop proposals that support this agenda and see what support I can provide as a Police and Crime Commissioner to getting some of these projects developed and off the ground, particularly through crisis cafes and community clinics.
'There is some way to go in ensuring that physical and mental health are treated the same in terms of funding, and pressure will remain on health commissioners, through mental health funding scorecards and Crisis Care Concordat groups, to ensure that parity can move from being an ambition to a reality. However, the Prime Minister’s announcement is a welcome step in the right direction.'