New approach means fewer psychiatric patients in police cells

Prison interior with dramatic lightFewer people with psychiatric problems are being taken to police stations if they are involved in an incident of some kind, the Volkskrant said on Monday.

In 30% of cases, police officers now take the person directly to a psychiatric institution for assessment and help, the paper said.

The new approach, which is being tested in Utrecht and other big cities, gives police officers direct access to specialist crisis help to assess if people need proper care.

The number of emergency admissions has risen 10% as a result.

Police last year had to deal with almost 60,00 incidents involving people with mental issues, a rise of 50% on 2011. The increase is due the closure of institutions and other specialist help units in favour of care in the community, the AD said last year.

Experts say being handcuffed and locked in a police cell can be extremely traumatic for people with psychiatric problems.

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