DORSET'S police and crime commissioner has warned "police officers are not mental health professionals" ahead of a meeting about mental health provision.

Martyn Underhill said the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group's public consultation on proposals laid out in the Mental Health Acute Care Pathway review will have implications for policing in the county.

Mr Underhill made a number of recommendations for due consideration by the Governing Body of NHS Dorset CCG at the upcoming decision-making meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, September 20.

He said: “It is well-established that those suffering with mental health problems are more likely to become victims of crime, or alternatively come into contact with policing as a result of behaviour that causes concern in the community.

“If an individual enters mental health crisis in police custody, there is no legal authority to continue the detention of the individual if a bed cannot be identified in a health setting.

"Custody officers are then placed in an untenable position: holding a detainee without the legal grounds to do so or releasing a person who is a risk to themselves or the public.

“As such, I warmly welcome proposals put forward for 16 additional inpatient beds across Dorset.

"Police officers are not mental health professionals and adequate provision of appropriate care is vital to meet the needs of individuals at risk.

“The creation of two new retreats where people can go to get the right support is a positive step forward. I recommend that in addition to a retreat in Bournemouth, the second is located in Dorchester rather than Weymouth to improve the accessibility of the service to those in West and North Dorset.”