Derbyshire PCC Alan Charles has welcomed the first Mental Health Concordat which has been unveiled this week, as a key part of the drive to deliver a better service to people suffering with mental health problems.
The Concordat sets out shared national principles to bring together a multi-agency response to individuals in mental health crisis. Police and Crime Commissioners will be a leading partner in delivering the local action plans that will deliver the Concordat’s goals.
One of the key issues that it aims to address is the procedure of taking people in crisis into police custody as a place of safety because of a shortage of mental health beds and treatment facilities. Such a situation raises serious welfare concerns and has resulted in injury or even death when the response to a person’s care has been wrong.
Care for individuals with mental health issues has been a serious concern for Police and Crime Commissioners for some time. Reports indicate that responding to the needs of individuals with mental health needs can account for up to 20% of police time when, in many cases, many of these individuals need help from health and social care agencies, not the police.
Statistics show that of all the detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983, in 36% of cases individuals were taken to police cells, not a place of safety with trained health professionals. The legislation was designed so that police cells could be used only exceptionally as places of safety.
Commissioner Charles said today: “This Concordat is a big step forward and will see health services, social care teams and the police working in a unified way in the best interests of the individual concerned. When I last checked, being ill wasn’t a crime and people will mental health problems should be treated by those who are qualified to do so, not locked in a police cell through nowhere else to go.
“Along with my fellow PCCs, I have recognised the problem and joined a vigorous campaign to ensure that detainees and victims of crime with mental health problems receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place.
“Mental Health issues have always been high on my agenda which is why I had already planned a Mental Health Summit for June 25 at which delegates will have the opportunity to discuss many of the key aims of the Concordat.”
The Department of Health’s Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat has been signed by a broad range of organisations including the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners to improve the outcomes of those suffering a mental health crisis. It emphasises the importance of partnership working and aims to end current injustices by promoting stronger working relationships between health services, social care services and the police in the way they respond to sufferers.
The Concordat core principles are:
- Access to support before crisis point.
- Urgent and emergency access to crisis care with the explicit recognition that police officers should not have to consider using police custody as an alternative just because there is a lack of local mental health provision, or unavailability at certain times of the day or night.
- The right quality of treatment and care when in crisis.
- Recovery and staying well, and preventing future crises.
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Posted on Wednesday 19th February 2014