Sharp rise in involuntary mental health committals

Police resources increasingly under pressure

In more and more situations, when the police are dispatched to handle a situation they find themselves dealing with issues pertaining to mental health.

Since 2007, the number of cases involving the police having to force someone into mental care has shot up by 74 percent.

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In 2017, police patrols responded to 4,463 calls that involved them having to commit someone against their will. That figure is up drastically from the 2,567 cases registered a decade earlier – and it might just be the tip of the iceberg.

“These figures don’t surprise me. I hear a lot about it from my colleagues who say they spend a lot of their work hours on people struggling with psychological issues. And it’s not just about involuntary committals – there are loads of other instances that have to do with people who are psychologically ill,” Heino Kegel, the head of the east-Jutland police union Østjyllands Politiforening, told DR Nyheder.

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Resources stretched
One of the problems is that the tasks take up a lot of police time and resources, which are already under considerable strain. Many of the cases take several hours to handle.

The cases can be particularly dangerous for police officers, as it is difficult for them to predict how a mentally unstable person will react with police banging on their door to take them away to be committed.

“We are very worried about their safety when they are out on these jobs. Because we are talking about sick people who don’t always react normally,” said Kegel.