Mental health nurses will patrol with police officers in four new pilot sites 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, which can prove particularly detrimental and damaging to vulnerable individuals.
Today the first four areas, North Yorkshire, Devon & Cornwall, Sussex and Derbyshire, have been chosen to pilot the mental health scheme, which will start in the summer. 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.
CALM Director Jane Powell said:
This is a fantastic initiative. We know that men are more likely than women to be arrested when they down or depressed due to an increase in risky behaviour, such as self medicating with alcohol and drugs. This risk taking behaviour is a clear sign of depression in men, so having mental health nurses join the police on patrols will allow guys to get help when then need it most, rather than be criminalised.
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.
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.