Along with Labour’s Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care, I’ve written a joint letter to the Home Secretary about people experiencing mental health crises and attempting suicide being prosecuted for their actions.
It is shocking and extraordinary that people in serious distress are dealt with in this way by the police and the justice system. As we say in our letter, people in mental health crises should be given the help they need, rather than criminalised.
If you were to ask police, patients, and the public who they want responding to a mental health crisis, no-one would say the police. But police officers have been forced into this role as our NHS and mental health services have become overstretched after years of underfunding. Last year, the emergency services watchdog found that the police take patients to hospital about 12,000 times a year.
Our letter calls on the government to issue guidance to the Crown Prosecution Service and the police to ensure that people with mental health problems are treated sensitively and appropriately.