Police not attending half of mental health callouts

Figures released in the Police 2021 Annual Report show significant demand for police services which police are unable to meet, says National Party Spokesperson for Police Simeon Brown.

“It is distressing to see that in the last year police were only able to attend half of the mental health calls they received from the public with police saying they are unable cope with the increasing demand.

“Police attended more than 70,000 mental health calls in the past year which was a 10 per cent increase from the year before demands for service but have increased by more than 60 per cent in the past five years. Police estimate that this trend will only get worse with mental health related calls expected to increase by 44 per cent by 2025.

“National introduced the Mental Health Co-response pilot trialled in Wellington which was designed by experts to see mental health nurses attending mental health incidents alongside Police and paramedics.

“It cost $8 million and was part of the former National Government’s $100 million mental health package. By having nurses involved, it would allow Police to focus more on fighting crime and solving investigations, while specialists respond and assist with the very real mental health issues present. The Government has failed to roll out this initiative to other police districts and has not invested in the initiative any further.

“The worrying trend that police can’t attend mental health callouts also shows why the Government needs to hurry up and get on with finishing the recruitment of the 1800 new police officers initiative. 

“With increasing levels of attrition there will be more situations where police can’t attend simply because there are not enough cops.”