Mental health nurses to join police on the beat

27 Jun 2013 @ 6.51 am
| News

Issued by North Yorkshire Police

Mental health nurses will patrol with police officers in North Yorkshire to improve responses to mental health emergencies, Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb announced today at the Black Mental Health UK Conference.

The street triage scheme sees mental health nurses accompany officers to incidents where police believe people need immediate mental health support.

The innovative scheme, funded by the Department of Health and backed by the Home Office, helps people with mental health problems who are sometimes detained in the wrong environment.

Today the first four areas have been chosen to pilot the mental health scheme, which will start in the summer. North Yorkshire is one police force area working with Department of Health, the others being Devon and Cornwall, Sussex and Derbyshire.

Two street triage services in Cleveland and Leicestershire have already shown that nurses and police can work together to achieve better results for patients by making sure they receive the treatment they need. This also reduced demands on valuable police time.

Last month, the Home Secretary announced that the Department of Health would be working with the Home Office to pilot ‘street triage’ with the police this year. This is part of a wider Department of Health and Home Office work plan on policing and mental health.

The Department of Health has secured further funding to extend this pilot scheme to more police forces and a number of further areas have already expressed an interest. More announcements are planned in the near future.

Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb said: “In some areas the police already do an excellent job in terms of their handling of situations involving people with mental health problems and work well with health colleagues to make sure that mentally ill people in crisis get the care and attention they need, but we need to make that the reality everywhere.

“We are launching these pilots to make sure that people with mental health issues get the right care, at the right time and in the right place.

“We know the barriers often lie at the crossroads between police and health services. That is why we are working with the Home Office and leaders of the police to look at how we can improve services for the very vulnerable people involved.”

This work is part of wider work that the Department of Health and its stakeholders are making to improve crisis care for mental health patients.

Other work includes:

  • an urgent assessment of the availability of places of safety across England by mid-July;
  • an inspection of the quality of all places of safety over the course of the year but the Care Quality Commission;
  • reviewing the provision of ambulance services for mental health emergencies later this year; and
  • a concordat in place this Autumn to improve the treatment of people with a mental health crisis.

Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice Rt Hon Damian Green said: “All too often the police encounter vulnerable people with mental health issues who need immediate care or longer term support which only the health service can provide.

“As the Home Secretary announced recently, the rollout of these street triage pilots are a step forward in our on-going work with the Department of Health and police to ensure people with mental health issues are dealt with by the right emergency service.”

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: “It is vitally important that people with mental health problems receive the very best care and support when they come into contact with the police in North Yorkshire and the City of York.

“I am actively working with partners in the NHS and the Department of Health to ensure our policing area provides ‘Places of Safety’ for people who are arrested under the Mental Health Act for their own safety. Being held in a police cell while awaiting specialist medical assistance is simply not acceptable.

“The street triage pilot will help to focus further attention on this very important issue, and I am grateful to the Department of Heath for choosing North Yorkshire to test this new and innovative way of working.

“Together with the wider plans that I am determined to press ahead with, I am confident that significant progress is being made in relation to helping people with mental health issues.”

Chief Constable Dave Jones, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “I very much welcome the opportunity for North Yorkshire Police to take part in the Department for Health’s street triage pilot.

“We recognise that more can – and should – be done to improve the all-round service for people with mental health issues who find themselves in contact with the police.

“This is reflected in the ongoing efforts in North Yorkshire and the City of York to provide ‘places of safety’ away from police cells.

“By having mental health professionals working directly alongside our officers, this will help to ensure the most appropriate assistance and treatment is available at the earliest opportunity.”