Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa said today that a major overhaul of the way police and other public agencies respond to the mentally unwell in the county had delivered dramatic safety improvements.
The Commissioner said on no occasion since the beginning of the year had police cells in Derbyshire been used as a place of safety for vulnerable people who were thought to be suffering a mental health crisis.
He was speaking after national figures revealed the use of police cells to detain those experiencing a mental health episode had more than halved from 4,537 in 2014/15 to 2,100 in 2015/16 (53.7%).
They also revealed a decline in the number of young people under the age of 18 detained in police custody who were thought to be unwell from 161 in 2014/15 to 43 in 2015/16 – a reduction of 73.3%.
Mr Dhindsa, who co-chairs the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat Stakeholder Group for Derbyshire, said: “Vulnerable people who need help and specialist care are now getting this support in the most appropriate location which is testament to the hard work and commitment of all agencies involved in the Concordat to design a stronger safeguarding model. Indeed, Derbyshire police cells have not been used as a place of safety under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 since the beginning of the year. This is a fantastic achievement.
“The welfare of mentally unwell people who come into contact with police is a top priority in Derbyshire and is identified as such in my Police and Crime Plan. Police cells are not equipped to support the needs of those with mental health problems and thankfully better arrangements now exist to ensure this situation doesn’t happen.
“Alongside stronger partnerships and improved communication, frontline workers have been trained to ensure the right health resources are identified at the outset, reducing the distress upon the individual. However, our work doesn’t stop there; we will continue to press for positive changes to enhance the help available for people who are mentally unwell and will reform where necessary to achieve this.”
The figures, released by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), show more cases nationally are being referred straight to health-based places of safety than ever before at 26,171.
The Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat was launched in February 2014. It is a national agreement setting out how organisations should work together to better help those in mental health crisis.
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Posted on Monday 12th September 2016