The number of incidents where north-east police have been called to deal with people experiencing mental health issues has more then doubled.
But only around 3% of those resulted in an arrest.
And the answer to the problem is not locking people up, but getting them appropriate help when they need it.
The issue was raised at a meeting of Moray Council police, fire and rescue services committee on Thursday.
‘It’s going to need commitment’
In 2017 the number of incidents north-east division officers were called out to was 998.
That rose to 2,176 in 2022.
Chief Inspector Darren Bruce told the meeting while there was good partnership working in Moray, more needed to be done to address the issue.
He said: “What this means for the police is a risk to how we deliver community policing across the north-east.
“For continuity this is not an increase in the number of criminals.
“But we do find ourselves having to arrest some people to make them safe.
“That’s not the fix we’re looking for and it’s not the fix we need.”
Ch Insp Bruce highlighted that it takes around 100 hours of police time to trace and make sure a missing person is safe.
‘Not just a policing issue is a societal issue’
And he said the number of incidents where people in Moray had tried to take their own life has increased.
In the first six months of this year there were 82 recorded attempted suicides compared to 26 in 2020.
Eight people took their own lives over the same time period. There were five in 2020.
Division commander Chief Superintendent Graeme Mackie said: “This is just the start of the conversation, not the end.
“It’s going to need commitment and different thinking, and I want that approach to be in Moray.
“It will be difficult to change this. But it’s not just a policing issue, it is a societal issue.”
Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Shona Morrison asked for the report to be brought forward to a meeting of the community planning board, which was agreed.