A special police squad which attends incidents across Leicestershire involving mental health issues and offers guidance and support to frontline officers has helped reduce the humber of people detained to a place of safety from 450 a year to just 158 in the last year.
The force’s Mental Health Team, which has 15 members, usually operates 16 hours a day but it is currently doing a new 24/7 pilot scheme through to March.
Within just one month, the team - which comprises an operations manager, six police officers, nine mental health practitioners and two turning point workers who deal with substance misuse cases - can triage around 700 jobs and is deployed to over 60 incidents.
Their work is being promoted today (Thursday) on Time To Talk Day, a campaign which advises sufferers to open up and talk about their mental health issues.
Chief Constable for Leicestershire Police, Simon Cole, said: “Time to Talk Day is a chance to sit down, talk and look after our own wellbeing.
“As a force, we deal with some difficult things on a daily basis, so the work around wellbeing and how we support our staff is really important.”
The team is split into two – a Proactive Vulnerability Engagement Team (PAVE) which deals with high demand users and a Street Triage Team who respond to live police incidents.
Members attend all mental health incidents that come into the force, as well as offering advice and guidance to command and frontline officers to ensure the patient is sent to the right agency, with the best possible support package.
All of the team have undertaken a mental health first aid course and training called Op Breakthrough, which was designed by the force and has now been used as best practice across the country.
The team have also won national awards for the work they have done.
The police mental health service is available seven days a week, 365 days a year and has reduced the number of people detained by Section 136 of the Mental Health Act from 450 per year to 158.
Sam Watson, mental health partnership and operations manager for the county police, said: “We support many national and local days and Time to Talk Day is about raising these issues and simply asking questions that can help someone come forward and discuss the issues they may have, as well as engaging with the right support service.
“We support the R U OK? campaigns throughout the year and have diverted many people to services to receive the right treatment, or in many cases for someone to talk to.
“Mental Health is a key part of the force. Our aim at all mental health incidents is to put in place the best care package we can.
“Our partnership with Leicestershire Partnership Trust (LPT), East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) and Local authorities is excellent and we have great partnership policies in place to work together to get the best outcomes.”