Norwegian police registers increase in number of violent incidents connected to serious mental illness

Tone VangenPhoto: Heiko Junge / NTB

Over the last four years, the number of times the police had to respond with armed patrols to reports connected to serious mental illness incidents has more than doubled.

In 2016, the police had to arm themselves a total of 1,333 times in encounters with the seriously mentally ill – a total of 3.6% of assignments the police had that year. 

Five years later, armed police had to intervene a total of 2,864 times in similar missions, an increase to 5.4% of assignments in such cases.

In a press release on Monday, the Norwegian Police Directorate noted that perpetrators with suspicion or symptoms of mental illness have been linked to a significant proportion of murders and attempted murders since 2016.

“The violence perpetrated by people with serious mental illnesses is described as more serious than before,” Tone Vangen at the Police Directorate noted.

She says the violence affects random people in the public space and people in the perpetrators’ close circle of friends. 

Increased risk

Factors such as substance abuse, marital problems, or unemployment in combination with mental illness can increase the risk of violence.

In the last five years, the number of police assignments that fall under the relevant regulations for mental illness increased from 37,130 to 53,219 cases. 

However, this is not an exhaustive overview due to the way in which the police must register incidents of violence. 

Therefore, there is no national overview of the connection between mental illness and violent crimes such as murder and attempted murder.

“The police districts and their partners have therefore analyzed this and made a qualitative assessment, which in turn means that we have a good professional foundation for reporting an increase,” Vangen said.

Source: #Norway Today, #NorwayTodayNews

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