In the 1980s and 1990s governments around the world decided to shut down public mental institutions, releasing the inmates to fend for themselves, even those with severe mental problems. It was believed that “warehousing” the mentally ill was not helping them and that inmates would do better in smaller community institutions. This was called “deinstitutionalization” and was widely supported at the time.
Unfortunately, the police now estimate that approximately one-quarter of criminal incidents involves a deranged person.
Dealing with the severely mentally ill causes serious challenges for police, not just in Canada, but also in the UK, the US, and Australia. According to Theresa May, the UK Home Secretary, an estimated 15 to 25 per cent of all incidents dealt with by police in London were linked to mental health.