Police interactions with mentally ill on the rise

By: The Canadian Press

 | Aug 27, 2014 - 1:55 PM |
VICTORIA - A new report says there are more interactions reported between police and people with mental illness than there were five to seven years ago.

Law enforcement agencies across the country have warned repeatedly that police are becoming the first line of contact for the mentally ill.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada says a lack of treatment and support for people with mental health problems, along with the stigma, lead to an expectation that police must deal with those in crisis.

The commission's latest report says most police organizations are doing a reasonable job of basic training to deal with such situations, but it makes 16 recommendations for improvement — among them that training should include direction interaction with people with mental health struggles.

The report was released at the annual gathering of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in Victoria.

Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill (way-hill), the association's newly elected president, says people with mental illness need the health system, not the justice system.

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