Greater Manchester Police is receiving a huge surge in calls related to mental health as a result of the pandemic, it has emerged.
On average, 60 officers a day are dealing with calls from people struggling with mental health – double the normal amount.
Bev Hughes, the Deputy Mayor, says GMP has set up a fortnightly gold command meeting with partners including those in mental health service to try and address the problem.
“I wanted to mention police calls for assistance, from people with mental health problems,” said Bev.
“This is always a significant part of the caseload that police work with, in terms of people needing assistance from the 999 and 101 line.
“Those calls are up by 42 per cent compared with figures in February. On average, almost 60 officers a day are dealing with people who called police because of mental health problems.
“That is double what we would normally expect.
“Nearly 90 per cent of those calls come through the 999 line and that is up from 11,000 calls to 999 a week to about 15,000 calls a week.
“Many of them with a mental health issue.
“There are three main reasons in terms of this increase; it’s very often about people not taking medication, but in this particular circumstance, in these Covid times, bereavement is a significant factor behind these calls, and people feeling they’ve not got the support they actually need.
“We’ve set in place fortnightly gold meetings – that is a multi-agency strategy meeting – to try and meet this demand more effectively and a 24/7 crisis line, and joint work between the local authorities, mental health services and police to try and respond better to people in these circumstances.
“The third factor is the work police are doing to try and help us comply with restrictions.
“It’s an extremely difficult time for police, particularly at the weekend but not only at the weekend.
“Just to give you some indication, last weekend there were nearly 600 incidents reported to police with a Covid-19 element, nearly 400 of those were house parties or indoor gatherings that involved a significant number of fixed penalty notices and in one instance, a closure order.
“I might say it’s very difficult for police at the moment interms of trying to strike the right balance.
“They don’t want to move to enforcement, they try to encourage people and explain and avoid enforcement measures if possible.
“But in some instances we’ve seen assaults on police officers.
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“The cost is difficult for police. Last weekend we had mutual aid provided by four other police forces, and that will happen this weekend.
“We’ve got a 100 extra officers coming in from other police forces and of course there is a financial cost to that because we have to pay for those additional officers.
“We really want to say to people as we come into this Bank Holiday weekend, please don’t have large gatherings in your gardens, in your homes.
“Please comply with the restrictions as they exist and help us to keep people safe. “