NSW Police could soon stop responding to triple 0 calls for mental health incidents
Paramedics fear for their safety following revelations police could stop responding to emergency calls relating to mental health incidents.
New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said he would consider following in the footsteps of British police, who are not required to attend calls for mental health incidents.
The Police Association of New South Wales is also trying to release officers and wants police to only respond to an incident if there is an immediate threat to life.
But paramedics believe they will be much less safe without the police presence.
NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley said it was a complex issue that required reform, acknowledging there were concerns within the community.
“I think it’s fair to say they’re both right. Witnessing mental health situations can be very, very dangerous,” she told 2GB on Tuesday.
NSW Police may stop responding to emergency calls related to mental health incidents, causing concern among paramedics (pictured, police officers gather outside the NSW Supreme Court South Wales)
NSW Police Association president Kevin Morton (pictured right with NSW Premier Chris Minns) said police were “ambushed” during critical incident investigations and that she felt “destroyed” and “broken” by mental health matters.
“Similarly, they can be very conflicting for people experiencing a mental health episode.”
Ms. Catley said she understands the concerns expressed by the state police union.
“I have heard of police going to homes where people were on community orders to make sure they had taken their medication.”
“Now, is this acceptable?” Probably not. So we need to find the right balance.
The Police Association of New South Wales said the call was made as officers complained about “hostile” treatment during coronial inquests.
The police union said officers complained of being “ambushed” during critical incident investigations and felt “destroyed” and “broken” by mental health-related cases. As a result, some members left the force.
A critical incident is an incident involving police that results in the death or serious injury of a person.
Nearly half of these operations involve a person experiencing a mental health crisis.
PANSW has been pushing for officers to be freed from the requirement to respond to emergency calls related to mental health, unless lives are in danger.
“Every time there is a critical incident in the coroner’s court and there is an element of mental health, it seems like only the cops are put in the spotlight,” said PANSW president Kevin Morton. The Daily Telegraph.
Mr Morton said officers were “fed up” with these operations.
“It shouldn’t be our problem… mental health is not a police problem,” he added.
Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes has warned against making paramedics the sole responders for mental health-related cases.
He explained that mental health patients can “go from very calm to very violent, very quickly” when first responders are on scene.
NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley (pictured) said responders attending mental health incidents was a complex issue that needed reform.
Paramedics believe they will be much less safe without police presence during incidents involving a mental health crisis (stock image)
Ms Catley said a program called PACER (Police, Ambulance, Clinical, Early, Response) was being trialled.
The program, which is a partnership with police, ambulance and mental health experts, has mental health clinicians placed in 10 police commands and districts across the state to assist in cases involving mental health crises .
Mr Minns also acknowledged it was a “tricky” issue in determining the best approach.
“Often when the call comes in, it is not clear to the operator whether the event involves violence or could involve violence and therefore requires the police,” he said last week.
“If there are changes we can make to this protocol, we will.”
It comes as senior NSW Police officers travel to England to train with London’s Metropolitan Police after the city’s law enforcement officers were exempted from attending incidents mental health.