Concern for person calls down from 25 to 22 per cent, says Thurso police officer
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THE number of concern for person calls handled by Thurso police has dropped from 25 per cent to 22 per cent, the town's community council has been told.
Police sergeant, Stephen Todd, revealed the reduction when he gave his report at the latest meeting. He said the police dealt with a total of 486 calls from October 25 to the end of January. Sixty-seven were for concern for person but there were also 23 mental health-related calls and a further 16 from external agencies, he said.
"There has been a drop from 25 per cent to 22 per cent in the number of these calls. We are pushing back as far as we can but we have a duty of care regards mental health issues. It is different in England," he stated.
Dealing with these calls can take anything from ten minutes to six hours, depending on the circumstances.
The community council has expressed concern about the amount of police time which is taken up with such calls and feels they should be dealt with by other agencies.
Thurso and Northwest Caithness councillor, Matthew Reiss, a retired senior police officer, has previously described the situation as "totally unacceptable" and pointed out that the Met in London has said it will no longer deal with mental health calls unless they are of a dire emergency. He said that was a stance as brave and hoped it would "force the government to do something about it".
Councillor Reiss has called on the Scottish Government and NHS Highland to "face up to reality" on mental health issues and argued they are taking up "hours and hours" of police time which could be spent dealing with criminal matters.
Community council secretary, Iain Gregory, also a former senior police officer, has expressed his concern about the situation and claimed there is "huge pressure" being put on the police as they respond to calls where "people are at breaking point".
The Scottish Government has said it will invest £290 million in mental health support and services.
The number of calls dealt with by the Thurso police included 86 traffic related matters, five sudden deaths, 21 domestic incidents, eight neighbour disputes and three what were described as hate crimes.
Community councillor, Louise Smith, said she was "really impressed" by the police response when she had to call them recently. "When you really need then they are right there," she said.