Met Police to cut mental health call outs from October after winning battle with NHS

Met chiefs win argument in attempt to save officers’ time and allow them to return to crime-fighting

Jane Dalton
Thursday 17 August 2023 22:25 BST
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Ismaiel Kallon, 20, of Lewisham, was charged with murder on Friday, the Metropolitan Police said (PA)
Ismaiel Kallon, 20, of Lewisham, was charged with murder on Friday, the Metropolitan Police said (PA)

The Metropolitan Police is set to cut mental health crisis callouts after winning an argument with the NHS over professional responses – but have agreed to delay the change by two months.

The force will no longer go to most such calls it receives, instead leaving them for health services, assistant commissioner Matt Twist said.

Senior Met chiefs had set a deadline of 31 August for the change, but after health and social care leaders said they could not meet that, the two sides settled on 31 October after tense behind-the-scenes talks lasting weeks, The Guardian reported.

A formal announcement is expected as soon as Friday, the newspaper said.

From that date, Scotland Yard officers will attend mental emergency calls only if there is a risk to life, a danger to the public or a crime is believed to be taking place. They had argued that such calls were taking up too much of police resources, diverting officers from crime fighting.

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist told the BBC: “So people have views on the original date of 31 August.

“And when we listened to partners, we got around the table and said, ‘actually we can’t do it by then and we can’t be ready by then but actually, by 31 October we can be’ so why wouldn’t we work together and... for the good of Londoners we’ve pushed it back by two months.

“But actually this is still a really ambitious timeline.”

Former Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham, who is also chairwoman of NHS mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk, has previously said the change was “potentially alarming”.

But in a letter to health and social care services, Sir Mark Rowley, the Met’s chief officer, cited the right care, right person (RCRP) strategy that was implemented by Humberside Police so that mental health calls were dealt with by medical professionals and not officers.

He said his officers spend 10,000 hours a month dealing with mental health issues.

According to the College of Policing, the policy implemented by Humberside Police has saved 1,132 officer hours on average per month and has prompted an average of 508 fewer police deployments per month.

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