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Mental health problems in Moray increasing police workload

By Hazel Lawson Local Democracy Reporter

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Local police are dealing with double the number of incidents involving mental health compared to five years ago.

Officers in Moray and Aberdeenshire were called out 2176 times last year to deal with people experiencing mental health issues.

Only 3% of these incidents resulted in an arrest.

By comparison, in 2017, the number of call-outs was 998.

The issue was raised at Moray Council's police and fire and rescue services committee last week

Chief inspector Darren Bruce said: "What this means for the police is a risk to how we deliver community policing across the north east.

"This is not an increase in the number of criminals, but we do find ourselves having to arrest some people to make them safe.

"That’s not the fix we’re looking for and it’s not the fix we need."

Ch Insp Bruce highlighted that it takes around 100 hours of police time to trace and make sure a missing person is safe.

He also stated that the number of incidents where people in Moray had tried to take their own life has increased.

In the first six months of this year there were 82 recorded attempted suicides compared to 26 in 2020.

Eight people took their own lives over the same time period. There were five in 2020.

Division commander chief superintendent Graeme Mackie also spoke at the same meeting.

He said: "This is just the start of the conversation, not the end.

"It’s going to need commitment and different thinking, and I want that approach to be in Moray.

"It will be difficult to change this. But it’s not just a policing issue is a societal issue."

Related article: Folk with mental health issues being let down, says retiring Superintendent

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