Policing Mental Health – The Relationship Between UK Police Forces and Mental Health
By Danny Bowman FRSA – CMHG Research and Communications Lead
The relationship between policing and mental health has intensified over the last two decades with rates of mental health-related incidents ascending across all four countries of the UK. The deconstruction of institutional care and the inadequate development of community-based alternatives has increased pressures on law enforcement. The increased saliency of mental health on the agendas of representative elites and governments has enabled this issue to be highlighted at the highest levels. Nevertheless, the well-meaning measures that have subsequently been established have seldom increased access to health-based provisions and reduced the burdens on law enforcement.
This study endeavoured to examine the mental health burden currently being faced by police forces across the UK. The study sent Freedom of Information requests to all 43 police forces in the UK asking for data on the total number of mental health-related records in 2019 and 2022. The results of the study suggest that the number of mental health-related incidents recorded by UK police forces has increased between 2019 and 2022. The data collected showed that over half of UK police forces had seen increases in cases between the two years, whilst almost 80 per cent of forces experienced percentage rises of 10 per cent or higher.
Previous administrations have made the reduction of mental health-related incidents and the enhancement of health-based measures a priority, but the results of this study suggest that more needs to be done to achieve these outcomes. A comprehensive resource allocation at the national level and increased multi-disciplinary working and training opportunities at the local level may render the impact of mental health emergencies on individual forces.
- The total number of mental health-related incidents recorded by UK police forces in 2019 was 402,804. This figure increased to 484,524 in 2022, representing an overall increase of 81,720.
- The overall percentage increase in mental health-related incidents recorded by UK police forces was 20.3 per cent with 75 per cent of forces recording a rise in cases.
- The highest percentage increases were recorded by Police Scotland (2889 per cent) and Lancashire Police (110.4 per cent).
- The average number of mental health-related incidents recorded by UK police forces was 17,500.
About the Author
Danny Bowman FRSA – Research and Communications Lead
Danny Bowman FRSA is a PhD Researcher, Chair of MaleVoicED and the CMHG Research and Communications Lead. He has previously held roles as the Director of Mental Health and Head of Campaigns at the Parliament Street think-tank. He has also engaged with No.10 and governmental departments on mental health.
Danny is passionate about mental health, having experienced his own issues as a teenager. His story went viral in 2014 appearing in Time Magazine, The Telegraph and The Times. He has also told his story on Good Morning Britain, Sky News and ABC 2020. He is determined to increase awareness and improve care for those with mental health disorders.