New approach to dealing with mental health incidents

ots-news-southport-ACC Mark Bates


A NEW innovative pilot partnership to tackle emergency incidents involving mental health will be rolled out across Lancashire from today (Monday 15th June 2015).


Aimed at reducing demand whilst ensuring that people get the right assistance at the first point of contact, the Mental Health Response Service (MHRS) will see police officers working in company with dedicated NHS mental health nurses who can make assessments and referrals meaning that people can get appropriate medical attention on the spot, rather than being taken to police custody or the hospital.


In addition, from August, mental health nurses will also be working within the force control room where 999 calls are answered, monitoring calls and offering advice to those reporting mental health related matters.


Almost one in every four incidents that police officers attend has some sort of related mental health issue, which can often be a trigger for the incident itself.


Lancashire Constabulary’s force lead for Early Action, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Bates said:  “We receive all sorts of calls where mental health is a factor, from those just calling for someone to speak to because they are lonely and depressed, to people threatening to commit suicide.


“This scheme is about taking action and supporting people at the earliest opportunity to prevent problems rather than responding to them. It means that individuals and families receive the most appropriate, quality support to ultimately build social resilience and create thriving communities.


“A quarter of the incidents that we deal with have some sort of related, and often complex, mental health issues attached and so the MHRS will allow us to get upstream in helping those people to get the right response and support at first contact.
“Therefore, individuals are less likely to enter the criminal justice system and less likely to need the services of police and other agencies, helping to reduce demand on all frontline services.”.


This new approach has already proved successful in other parts of the country including Merseyside and Cheshire where they have reported a 90% fall in Section 136 Mental Health Act police detentions. West Midlands have also seen a 70% decrease.


The initiative has been funded by Blackburn with Darwen and Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) and the police innovation fund (PIF), whilst Lancashire Care Foundation Trust are providing the mental health nurses on this pilot.


Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “The Mental Health Response Service will mean anybody experiencing mental health conditions, who comes into contact with the police, will get the right intervention straight away.
“Around a quarter of all police demand has a mental health element to it. It is vital that we work in partnership with other services to reduce that demand, but more importantly, help those who need support.
“Prevention is always better than the cure and by working together we can significantly improve the prospects people with mental health conditions across the county.”


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