CONCERNS have been raised that health and social care services across Shropshire are not prepared for the increased demand resulting from West Mercia Police’s decision to stop responding to most mental health calls.

Members of West Mercia police and crime panel said they were worried the force was pushing ahead with the drastic policy change before other agencies had plans in place to deal with the consequences.

The panel urged police and crime commissioner John Campion to press chief constable Pippa Mills to reign in the “quick” roll-out and better engage with other organisations – after only 19 responses out of an expected 600 were received during a consultation on the plans.

The policy change, dubbed ‘most appropriate agency’ was adopted in April to try and ensure people in mental health crisis receive the support they need, while freeing up police resources to deal with crime.

Under the new approach, police will “firmly decline” requests for welfare checks and other mental health calls unless there is an “immediate, unconditional and real threat to life”.

Earlier this year it was announced that all police forces would be asked to adopt this new approach, re-focusing on preventing and detecting crime, keeping the King’s peace and protecting life and property.

Mr Campion said too much "inappropriate demand" is being placed on the police in relation to mental health crisis and service failure in other organisations and that officers have been used as a safety net for a long period.

He said for the policy shift to be successful it had to be a partnership approach with other services.