Police officers in Scotland will not “step away” from emergency calls linked to mental health incidents despite a move from the Metropolitan Police.
Deputy Chief Officer David Page, of Police Scotland, told a Holyrood committee on Tuesday that financial constraints will not see the force refuse to attend mental health call outs.
It comes as a force south of the border said officers will only attend mental health 999 calls where there is an “immediate threat to life”.
The Metropolitan Police decision will take effect after August 31 and is designed to free up officers to spend more time on their core duties rather than dealing with patients who require help from medical experts.
However, he said diminishing resources may see their capacity to respond weakened.
When asked if similar measures will be taken in Scotland, Mr Page said: “We have a duty of care and wellbeing so our role and remit is quite different to English and Welsh police forces, so that won’t happen.
“Having said that, the burden that mental health issues place on Police Scotland and it could run straight back to the resourcing issue.
“If our resourcing is squeezed – effectively, the blue line becomes thinner. There’s absolutely no work going on to step away in the way that the Met have come out and said they will.
“It’s not a conscious decision for us. But it may be an unconscious decision in that we will not have the resources.
“There’s no intent to step away but whether we can be there all of the time now (is the issue).”
Scotland’s chief constable, Sir Iain Livingstone, previously warned that the organisation’s workforce will have to be reduced due to funding allocations.
The Scottish Government’s spending review last year allocated £1.25 billion for policing until 2026/27, but has since offered an increased to £1.45 billion in next year’s budget.
Last year, MSPs heard that police officers were struggling to cope with the soaring demand of mental health callouts.
John Hawkins, assistant chief constable of local policing north, told the Criminal Justice Committee that about 80% of yearly calls were “last resort” mental health calls.