An increasing amount of police work involves people with psychiatric problems, the capital’s police chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said in his New Year speech on Tuesday evening.
Between 20% and 30% of police time is spent dealing with incidents ‘related to mental heath issues’, the Volkskrant quotes Aalbersberg as saying.
The paper says healthcare cuts, care in the community policies and the growing number of people who refuse treatment has led to an increase in incidents requiring police intervention.
‘We are often the first port of call but we are not the most expert in this area,’ the police chief said. ‘Our focus is public safety’.
Amsterdam police involve local health officials in screening people who have been arrested some 5,000 times a year – or 13 times a day. Five times a day suspects are forcibly sent to a psychiatric hospital because their symptoms are so severe.
Mental health officials had warned in October that tramps and homeless people with behavioural problems would cause more problems in communities since fees were introduced for psychiatric care, the paper pointed out.