Mental health problem profile

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Nottingham

In Collaboration With

Problem Solving and Demand Reduction Programme; Get the Data

Principal Researcher

Professor Eddie Kane

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

July 2019

Research Context

Evidence suggests that the demand facing the police service is changing, with an overall decrease in recorded crime but a rise in certain types of crime and a notable increase in non-crime related incidents. Mental health is one area where the police are reportedly seeing an increase in demand. The exact extent and nature of this demand however, is not well evidenced. A recent HMICFRS inspection found "a general lack of understanding by forces of their mental health demand" and recommended that all forces carry out a ‘snapshot’ exercise to assess their demand.

To help fill the current gap in evidence of mental health policing demand, The University of Nottingham is working with the Problem Solving and Demand Reduction Programme to support the HMICFRS recommendation for a national 24 hour snapshot exercise. In addition to the 24 hour snapshot, more detailed data will be collected in three forces.

Aims & Objectives
The overall aim of this work is to understand the extent and nature of mental health related incidents coming to the attention of the police in England and Wales. This will be done through two separate pieces of work:

A 24 hour ‘snapshot’ of demand nationally - the main objectives of this piece of work are to:

  • Describe the volume of mental health related incidents during that period
  • Assess the length of time police spend dealing with those incidents (where possible)
  • Describe the nature of the incidents e.g. the type of incidents; characteristics of who is involved; where they take place; the use of police powers 
  • Through the scanning of the data, identify the main ‘problems’ that manifest within the broader categorisation of mental health related incidents

Local level in-depth scanning and analysis of incidents in three forces across a longer time period – the main objectives of this piece of work are to:

  • More precisely specify the type of problems that manifest in those forces
  • Identify factors that might be contributing to those problems

The intention is to create a national problem profile using the findings of the work.

Research Methodology

The 24 hour snapshot will involve statistical analysis of all mental health related incidents that come to the attention of the police in a specific 24 hour period. The dataset will first be explored with descriptive statistics. Statistical models based upon regression analysis will identify the factors that drive the problems for the police and the demands placed upon them due to mental health incidents. We will also explore, however, if factor analysis or principle component analysis can identify the underlying factors that cause substantial problems for the police.

This data will be supplemented with more in-depth analysis in three forces. Semi-structured interviews will be carried out with various people in those forces to understand the perceptions and realities of mental health related incidents, how they are defined, flagged and responded to. Data will be extracted for a 12 month period and analysed as with the snapshot data.

Findings from both pieces of work will be combined to build a problem profile.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

March 2020
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