Tasmanian News

Mental health 'crisis' taking police off the beat


Police supervising mentally ill people in hospital is leaving towns and suburbs unpoliced for hours every night, according to Independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

He says pairs of officers are spending up to four hours in emergency departments up to twice a day to watch people with mental health problems.

Mr Wilkie says it's a symptom on an inadequate mental health system in the state which he describes as in a state of crisis. 

"These are police officers that are often coming from regional or small towns where there might only be two police officers," he said.

"That leaves that area without a police presence for hours on end, perhaps all night.

"That is not in the public interest."

Police Association Vice-President, Gavin Cashion believes Tasmania Police have long been the “24 hour catch-all” agency and its resources are being stretched to the limit across the State.

"We feel it's long overdue and something needs to be done about the state of mental helath services in Tasmania," he said.

"Too often, now, we are becoming the first responder in relation to all types of mental health issues."

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