A quite startling claim here, that some vast proportion of police time is used in dealing with nutters having a public spasm rather than what we might prefer them to be doing, nicking crims. Perhaps that care in the community idea might be worth revisiting?
Police are spending at least 40 per cent of their time dealing with people with mental ill health rather than fighting crime, the Police Federation has warned.
John Apter, the Federation’s chairman, said police were now devoting 80 per cent of their time to non-crime related incidents, the “lion’s share” of which were because of a mental health crisis.
Police figures showed the number of mental health incidents where police were called had risen by 28 per cent in four years from 385,206 in 2018 to 494,195 last year.
That equated to 1,353 incidents a day – or 56 an hour, according to the data supplied by police forces in England and Wales after Freedom of Information requests.
Park those numbers just for a moment.
“This country is in the grip of a growing mental health crisis and my colleagues are at the very forefront of trying to protect and support vulnerable people,” said Mr Apter.
“These figures show we have reached beyond tipping point, and we would welcome a wider public investigation into these important issues.”
Personally I doubt it. I would need very strong proof indeed to convince me that we’ve more nutters than we used to. Even with wider definitions in use these days – or perhaps narrower, we used to think that wanting bits lopped off was a mental problem – the intuition is that we’re dealing with the problem differently and possibly worse.
But back to our numbers.
40% of police time is spent upon the nutters. 56 incidents an hour is 40% of police time.
One more number, there are 123,171 police in the country.
Each police officer manages to deal with – on average of course – 3.81 nutters a year. And that takes 40% of their time. Thus each police officer, on average, manages to attend to 9.52 incidents a year.
Might the problem be the efficiency with which the police attend to matters rather than the number of nutters they have to attend to?