The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has proposed to respond to fewer mental health call-outs to relieve pressure on frontline officers.
The new scheme would be introduced in September, said Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, above.
It comes as reports suggest that from September the force will respond to fewer emergency calls related to mental health incidents.
According to the Guardian, Sir Mark Rowley says he has given health and social care services a deadline of August 31 before the force ‘withdraws from health-related calls’.
This will only be waived if there is a threat to life.
It is part of the Met’s attempt to repurpose itself in the wake of disastrous sex abuse scandals and poor performance in recent years.
Observers says that other forces and their police and crime commissioners will want to adopt similar schemes in order to utilise available resources most effectively.
Humberside Police has been using the Right Care Right Person (RCRP) policy for three years, leading to 500 fewer mental health call outs each months as a result.
The Met boss argues officers are continually being diverted from their core role of fighting crime.
Patients who need medical experts are being failed when a police officer attends instead, says Sir Mark.
Policing Minister Chris Philp said police officers are “not mental health specialists” and should not “fill in for other emergency services” where there is no risk to life and no crime has been committed.
But the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ President said he was ‘surprised and concerned’ by Sir Mark’s pledge.
Dr Adrian James said: “It is simply unhelpful and impractical to make decisions like these before we have worked out what will happen in some very concerning situations, both for patients with mental illness, but also for the public and police officers alike.
“We need better funding and commissioning of mental health services so that there can be proper continuity of care, this will help people to be seen earlier and ultimately reduce the number of those going into crisis.”