HEALTH MATTERS: Police warn mental health demand outstripping capacity

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP.

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has called for a “reality check” in Scottish Government thinking about the mental health crisis, as Police Scotland issue a stark warning about their capacity to deal with demand heading into this winter.

During an SPA Board meeting, DCC Will Kerr responded to questions about the likely demand over the coming months. He said that already, the “level of demand has outstripped capacity and [Police Scotland’s] professional ability to deal with it.”

He also said the Public Health Scotland statistics published yesterday showing that there were 833 probable suicides registered in Scotland in 2019 was “something that should worry us all”.  

Liam McArthur said:  “This should be a reality check for the Scottish Government.  The police are doing their best in amongst a patchwork of underfunded mental health services. They have long been asked to catch everyone who falls through the cracks, but those cracks are simply getting too wide.

“As we head into what will be an especially difficult winter for many people, the Scottish Government must immediately react to these warnings from the frontline with an urgent uplift in support. Long-term we also need to see a serious expansion of the mental health workforce, fast access to talking therapies at your GP practice and new 24/7 crisis care.”

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr and Gartnavel Royal Hospital, where the police have to spend too much of their time on duty.

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