Vancouver Police Release Mental Health Strategy

July 8, 2016

Vancouver - The Vancouver Police Department is releasing its Mental Health Strategy, sharing a comprehensive approach for a proportional police response to people living with mental illness.

Over the past five years, the VPD has publicly reported the dramatic increase in police interactions with persons living with mental illness. There has also been a number of high-profile incidences of violent crime associated with an apparent mental health factor, highlighting gaps in the continuum of care and in the system generally. Working with partners, the VPD continues to expand its Mental Health Unit, mental health crisis response car (Car 87), the Assertive Outreach Team (AOT), and the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), providing front line support to traumatized individuals in traumatizing circumstances.

This formalized Mental Health Strategy articulates VPD’s role in providing care for individuals in a mental health crisis. It was created following consultation with numerous stakeholders and partner organizations, including Vancouver Coastal Health, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the City of Vancouver, and mental health professionals from St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital, and UBC Psychiatry.

This strategy will serve as an overarching approach for the VPD. It is intended to account for the significant impact that can result from people living with mental illness coming into contact with the police, and set forth a framework on how the VPD models its interaction with this segment of the population. That is not to say that mental illness is a causal factor in violent crime -- rather, people living with mental illness are more likely to be a victim of crime than the perpetrator.

This Mental Health Strategy is framed around the core values of the VPD, and the principles of justification, proportionality, and intrusiveness. It is designed to provide clear and concise information about the VPD’s position and intent, and to serve as a framework to support operational deployment, organizational partnerships, education and training initiatives, and a commitment to the community relative to its interactions with persons living with mental illness.

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VPD mental-health-strategy.pdf493.63 KB