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Police called 200 times to mental health hospital - now they appoint dedicated officer due to number of calls

MP Norman Lamb answering questions from the public. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

MP Norman Lamb answering questions from the public. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

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Police have had to appoint a dedicated officer to deal with crimes at mental health hospitals because they are receiving so many calls.

Stuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer. Photo: NSFTStuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer. Photo: NSFT

A Freedom of Information request submitted by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb revealed police were called to Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich more than 200 times last year.

And police said a dedicated officer was now dealing with and supporting Hellesdon Hospital and another mental health hospital in Broadland.

Mr Lamb said the number of call outs to Hellesdon Hospital reflected how stretched services were. He said: “This is an intolerable situation. I am really concerned the assurances that I was given that solutions would be found have not been met.”

But Stuart Richardson, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) chief operating officer, said patients were “often extremely distressed, vulnerable, and may be physically or verbally violent” and police had to be called if they were a danger or a crime was committed.

He added demand was rising. He said: “We are seeing more and more people in crisis. This, in turn, puts more pressure on all of our services. We are all doing our very best within a high-pressured health system which has many conflicting demands for all of our resources.”

But Mr Lamb said this was not good enough. He said: “Services are badly letting down very vulnerable individuals. Police should not be left to cover gaps in healthcare provision in this way.”

It comes after Mr Lamb previously complained about patients being unlawfully detained while waiting for help. He said: “One year on from when I was assured that action would be taken, this wholly unacceptable situation must now end.”

Police were called to Hellesdon Hospital 89 times for missing person incidents in 2018, and 43 times for someone who had collapsed, was ill, injured, or trapped. Assistant chief constable Nick Davison, from Norfolk Constabulary, said the force understood the pressure NSFT was under.

“However, as these figures highlight, we are dealing with a lot of crimes and incidents within trust premises,” he said. “Because of this we now have a dedicated beat manager dealing with these crimes and supporting Hellesdon Hospital and other trust facilities within Broadland. This support and the calls to this place of safety do, however, place a further burden on an already stretched police frontline.”

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