NORTHUMBRIA Police contact centres will soon be equipped with specialists to help reduce force callouts to mental health-related incidents.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, has announced that mental health specialists will be in place by November to reduce pressure on stretched resources and help callers get appropriate care.

According to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, there has been an “alarming” 152 per cent increase in mental health-related incidents since 2017, accompanied by higher 999 call volumes.

PCC McGuinness has also called for more funding for the NHS and public sector organisations to help deal with the underlying cause of the current mental health crisis and allow police to tackle more crime.

PCC McGuiness said: “We need those in the public sector who work in mental health to be funded properly and we just don’t have that at the moment. We are seeing an alarming rise in mental health incidents being called to Northumbria Police.

“We have got to reduce the pressure the mental health crisis is playing on struggling police resources. I think we would all agree if you’re having a mental crisis you don’t need a police officer with blue lights and a tazer to be the person to come to your aid, you need a mental health professional.

“We are simply not seeing the funding going into that environment and we are seeing that being pushed on the police. That’s not a service to the public, it’s not fair on the police, and it means it’s more difficult for police to get to incidents of crime because they are dealing with incidents of mental health.”

“We are doing some work along with a local charity to put specialist mental health workers into our 999 call handling centres, in the same way we have put specialist domestic abuse callers, so people can help straight away.”

“We know this is not going to be the long-term solution to the problem, it will help, but what we really need to say is investment in mental health services so police are not relied on as the last point of contact.”

The move comes as London’s Metropolitan Police will no longer attend mental health cases, without a threat to life, from October 31 this year.