A groundbreaking NHS-police partnership has seen the number of people with mental ill health detained in police custody fall by 66 per cent over the last two years.
The Leicestershire and Rutland mental health triage car service was launched in 2012. The scheme sees mental health nurses working alongside police officers – either travelling with them to incidents or offering advice over the phone.
The aim is to ensure that people who might otherwise be detained inappropriately are assessed and receive timely support or advice.
This pioneering initiative by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) and Leicestershire Police was one of the schemes highlighted at a national conference yesterday (Tuesday).
Hosted by Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), and supported by the Department of Health, the Street Triage EXPO saw people from across the health and criminal justice professions gather in Leicester to talk about the national approach to mental health triage.
At the first gathering of its kind, delegates heard how the scheme in Leicestershire and Rutland has seen the number of people detained by police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act reduced consistently by two-thirds. The average time to deal with 136 detainees in Leicestershire and Rutland has also fallen – it is now less than five hours, compared with a national average of eight hours in 2013.
Improving the response, service and outcomes of those with mental health needs is one of the key priorities as set in the PCC Sir Clive Loader’s Police and Crime Plan.
Last year LPT and Leicestershire Police extended the range of support when they were selected as one of 10 national pilots trialling a new criminal liaison and diversion service.
The new service sees:
• Mental health practitioners available in custody suites 18 hours a day, seven days a week
• Specialist support provided by mental health practitioners for children and young people, people with autism and other learning disabilities and older people with mental health needs
• Specialist mental health support in youth courts
Peter Jackson, project manager for LPT, said: “The liaison and diversion service has now operated for 18 months and has engaged with 4,049 people who have been involved in the criminal justice system.
“The work is helping us to understand the prevalence of the mental health needs of offenders in Leicestershire and Rutland and the services needed to support them. Together these projects have helped us to streamline and improve the police and LPT roles. We are better at responding to people in mental health crisis because we ensure they are assessed and supported appropriately. It’s also helping to reduce demands on valuable police and medical resources.”
Organiser of the conference PC Alex Crisp is the Mental Health Partnership Development Manager for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. He was also one of the first street triage police officers in the country.
He said: “The results in Leicestershire show that a partnership approach really does work. The figures for the last two years shows a huge reduction in the number of people with mental ill health detained by police and this figure is continuing to fall.
“At next week’s conference we will be celebrating the partnership work being undertaken across the country but also looking at how we continue to work together to improve the services that are offered to people with mental health needs.”