A Commons debate has highlighted the knock-on effects on police services of under-provisioned rural health services.
In a debate on rural crime and public services, MPs heard that the sparsity of social, mental health and more general health services in rural areas forces rural police to take an increased role as an auxiliary social and emergency service.
Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley, Lab) said: “This is not only wrong for the police… but, most importantly, wrong for the people struggling with their health needs, who are met with a criminal justice response rather than a health one because the proper provision simply is not available.”
Launching the debate, Ms Haigh highlighted the increased costs and challenges of delivering public services across large, sparsely populated geographical areas.
She has called on Government to ensure that rural communities are not disadvantaged in the delivery or quality of public services. She said: “In the public imagination… rural Britain is a place of near meadows, still streams and sleepy villages, but the challenges facing it … are significant and unique.”
The debate noted that rural crime cost the UK economy £42.5 million in 2015, “One of the greatest challenges our policing model faces is its ability to provide a consistent service to every victim, and indeed offender, regardless of where they live,” she said.