Mental health-related arrests jump 18%: police
There were more than 3,500 cases where police apprehended someone under the Mental Health Act in Vancouver in 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Vancouver arrests related to mental health went up 18% last year, according to a report.
“When you look at the numbers, 3,500 apprehensions-plus, we’re looking at almost 10 every day,” said Const. Brian Montague on Tuesday.
“Which is obviously a lot of calls, a lot of police resources and a lot of time officers spend dealing with the mental health crisis.”
Jonny Morris of the Canadian Mental Health Association said $20 million in recent provincial funding has helped, but that money — some of which funded mental health intervention units and beds — mainly addresses the more serious cases.
According to police, the vast majority of calls are people who want to hurt themselves or others.
Life-threatening calls increased 9% to 2,872 incidents in 2013, police said, but others have skyrocketed about 44%.
Additionally, officers reported that mental health is a factor in 21% of all incidents the force encounters.
“We need to invest more, considerably more in community-based mental health and addiction services to prevent people getting to a crisis point,” Morris said.
“So you don’t have to be admitted to a treatment facility or hospital or emergency room.”
Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang attributed the numbers to social housing losses as provincial and federal funding dries up.
He’s also pessimistic about the city’s homeless count numbers expected to be released Wednesday.
“They know the numbers have gone back out to the street … I think the homeless count numbers will be up across the city,” Jang said.
“We’re seeing that in our report from outreach workers and my contacts. We’re seeing it in street-disorder problems.”
Vancouver Coastal Health says its numbers show the increase is closer to 22% and the reason less-serious incidents may be rising is because health officials are more proactive in chasing down “extended leave or AWOL” patients, which require police aid.