Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are to have a say in helping shape future mental health legislation after Kent PCC Matthew Scott was invited to join the Prime Minister’s independent review team. Mr Scott, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ national lead on mental health welcomed the opportunity, saying:
“Mental health is one of the most pressing challenges police forces up and down the country are facing. With the withdrawal of services in other areas, all too often the police is now the service of first resort when a person experiences a mental health crisis rather than the service of last resort.
“Current legislation is outdated – and it is vital that PCCs have a say over what happens next. For example, PCCs are of the belief that a police cell should never be used as a place of safety.
“The review, announced by the Prime Minister on 4 October, is being led by Professor Sir Simon Wessely, a former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Meeting around four times a year it will bring together influential stakeholders to address concerns about current legislation and suggest improvements.
“There will always be a requirement for the police to deal with mental health issues but police officers are not mental health professionals. Having uniformed police officers taking care of vulnerable people or taxiing them around is not a good use of police resources and, more importantly, it is not what a person in mental health crisis needs.
“People suffering mental ill health need the right care from the right person at the right time. I will be gauging views of my PCC colleagues from around the country to inform the review of how we think that could be delivered in future.”
The first meeting of the advisory panel is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 14 November in London.