Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa has welcomed the progress being made to support vulnerable people with mental health issues who come into contact with police.
The Force has rolled out a series of improvements to ensure people with mental health difficulties receive the right help for their problems and at the earliest opportunity to prevent further crisis.
At a meeting of the Commissioner’s Strategic Priorities Assurance Board (SPA), members were told police custody is no longer being used as a place of safety under section 136 of the Mental Health Act – and has only been used on three occasions involving “exceptional circumstances” during the past three years.
None of these occasions involved an individual under the age of 18.
The board was told Derbyshire’s Mental Health Triage Hub – based within the Force control room at police HQ – was continuing to develop with the East Midlands Ambulance Service coming on-board in October last year and 111 calls being taken from November onwards.
The hub, which runs from 4pm until midnight weekdays and 9am until midnight over the weekend, is made up of qualified mental health professionals who review mental-health related police incidents and their own health records to advise officers’ dealing with those experiencing mental health problems or learning difficulties.
Elsewhere, an enhanced case management system has been introduced within the Youth Offending Service using the services of a seconded psychologist from Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
The Force has also developed a Mental Health Strategy and appointed strategic and operational leads as well as review Force policies and procedures to promote work/life balance and a healthier workforce.
Commenting on the improvements, Mr Dhindsa said: “Derbyshire has come a long way since signing the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat in 2014. Today, partnership work is stronger than ever and there are now a multitude of organisations and agencies working together to join up services and ensure vulnerable people receive the care and attention they need while also trying to prevent excessive demand on emergency departments.
“There is still an acute lack of mental health resources and that generates significant demand for the police. We recognise the financial pressures faced by our partners and are working together to examine the current pathways into treatment and identify how and where we can do things better.
“Mental health needs are often invisible until they reach crisis point. There is likely to be a whole host of contributing factors including drug and substance misuse and alcohol addiction and a more holistic approach is needed to identify those at risk earlier and develop the services essential for recovery.”
The Commissioner continues to co-chair the county’s Crisis Care Concordat group, meeting regularly to drive forward progress on mental health.
Supporting people in mental health crisis, including victims and perpetrators of crime, is among the PCC’s top priorities and the Commissioner has funded community groups which are working to address mental health issues.
The PCC is also working with the Chief Constable to safeguard the mental wellbeing of police staff, officers and volunteers, introducing a wellbeing strategy with the aim of fostering a positive working environment for all employees and understand the causes for psychological absence.
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Posted on Wednesday 17th July 2019