A review of mental health crisis care in England and Wales by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found that the police are regularly the first point of contact for those in mental distress.
Nightime is often the peak time for acute mental health episodes, the report found, with many mental health services geared to operate during the day. As a result the police were often left operating as first responders to those in crisis.
Those in crisis found volunteers, charities and heath care professionals to be the most compassionate. The least compassionate services were perceived to be community-based mental health teams and accident and emergency departments.
The CQC concludes that all routes into crisis care should be 'focused on providing accessible and available help, care and support for all those who require it at the time they need it'.
The Centre's director, Richard Garside, has previously argued that the mission creep, which has seen police officers covering for health and social services, should be reversed.