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Police Commissioner to join partners in symbolic meeting to improve the care of mental health sufferers

Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles is to host a multi-agency event to examine mental health provision across the county and identify opportunities for improvement in the care of vulnerable people.

Senior health professionals, criminal justice experts, social care providers and policing representatives will come together for the Mental Health Summit, due to be held on June 25 at the Post Mill Centre in South Normanton. 

The event follows the launch of the Department of Health’s Crisis Care Concordat which has been signed by a multitude of professional agencies to improve the response to individuals in mental health crisis. Police and Crime Commissioners will play a leading role in the local action plans to be delivered in Derbyshire as part of the Concordat’s principles.  

The Summit will explore strategic issues around mental health and its impact on the criminal justice system and will symbolically seal the commitment of those agencies which will be responsible for delivering the Concordat in the county.

A range of key stakeholders are due to attend and delegates will hear presentations from David Gardner, head of mental health contracts for Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group; Charlie Brooker, Honorary Professor of Criminal Justice and Health, Royal Holloway, University of London; and Suanne Lim, head of the Youth Offending Service at Derby City Council.

Explaining his aims for the day, Commissioner Charles said: “Since the Concordat was launched, we’ve been working closely with our partners in health and criminal justice to map out how we will deliver its objectives and ensure those suffering mental health crisis in Derbyshire are given the best possible treatment and care - in the most appropriate setting. This Summit really builds on this early work and presents us with an opportunity to pull together all those responsible for safeguarding vulnerable people to discuss any issues which arise out of the agreement and formalise our goals and ambitions.

“I’ve been part of a very determined campaign to raise standards for the care of mental health patients and ensure that nobody ever faces the injustice of being locked in a police cell again when they require specialist health intervention. The Concordat is only part of a long journey to improvement - the steps we take now to implement its aims will be crucial to making positive, long-term changes.

“Communication and information-sharing will be critical in moving forward and this Summit will help us to educate each other on the processes involved in responding to people with mental health needs. The local plans that emerge from our discussions will help us to deliver appropriate arrangements that enable frontline professionals to consistently deliver safe, dignified outcomes for vulnerable people.  We all need to remember that being ill is not a crime.”   

David Gardner, head of mental health contracts for NHS Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Derbyshire’s health services and commissioners are pleased to support the police and crime commissioner’s initiative.

“We wish to ensure our services are accessible and effective for all groups, and we know that people with mental health problems can often be found in disproportionate numbers in the criminal justice system. We are keen to explore with the police and other agencies how we can make improvements together.

“We are committed to making improvements to the way services can respond to people in a crisis. We are looking for ways we can improve integrated ways of working to avoid crises occurring but, when they do, to be able to respond as effectively as we can. One in four people will experience mental health problems at some time in their lives and it is important that we jointly develop community resilience and options for crisis resolution, and reduce use of the Mental Health Act powers.”

NHS Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group is lead commissioner of mental health services in Derbyshire.

One of the key issues behind the launch of the Concordat 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 ethical questions about the protection of basic human rights. 

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.

Delegates will also learn more about the Street Triage Pilot in Derby – one of only nine such schemes in the country – which is already showing positive results, highlighting the benefits of partnership working between Mental Health Practitioners and 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.  

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.

The Summit will also signal the beginning of an implementation process for the Concordat, a workstream that will be overseen by a Group under the joint chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa and David Gardner with input from strategic representatives from key partners in the health and criminal justice arenas.


Media Enquiries:   Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401


Posted on Wednesday 25th June 2014
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