Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster is co-funding a new mental health ‘Street Triage’ service which will reduce the demand for police assistance in instances of mental health crisis so that they can get back to frontline duties far more swiftly.
The new scheme sees police officers deployed to incidents in Street Triage Cars alongside trained Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPN) to provide people experiencing mental health issues with immediate care to keep them safe.
The aim is to ensure people receive appropriate medical attention as quickly as possible while also reducing the time officers spend tackling non-crime related incidents.
It follows a successful ‘co-response’ pilot in Derbyshire last summer which deployed a police officer and CPN to mental-health related incidents for a month to assess the model’s effectiveness.
The pilot not only saw a reduction in the number of vulnerable people admitted to hospital as a result of the rapid healthcare, it also ensured officers were released to carry out policing work up to three hours earlier than usual.
Between August and December 2022, working with partners such as Mental Health and the Ambulance services to ensure that the appropriate agency was involved from the outset, the Constabulary saved 3,528 hours of officer time.
Driving Efficiencies is a key priority in the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan and she is committed to undertake strong partnership work with blue light colleagues and partners to deliver efficiencies in service.
Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster said: “I have been working closely with NHS colleagues to ensure people with mental health problems who come into contact with police receive the right assessment and care at the earliest opportunity. In turn, this significantly reduces the amount of time officers spend dealing with incidents that are not related to criminality. This time is then spent tackling crime and disorder in our communities. The fact that we have been able to save such a significant number of hours in officer times by working closely with partners is proof that driving efficiencies in this area is crucial.
“The launch of the Street Triage Service ensures that officers have the benefit of trained and experienced mental health nurses on-site to resolve incidents immediately and in the most appropriate way.
“As Commissioner, I have vowed to deliver strong local policing. I have made clear I expect police officers to work effectively and efficiently in our communities to carry out their primary job of fighting crime. The addition of a co-response team will help free up valuable police time and enable the force to better balance its ever-growing demands.”
The force, supported by the Commissioner, is dedicating four officers to the Street Triage Service 365-days-a-year while NHS health partners have committed to providing CPNs for each shift.
The Street Triage Cars are expected to come into service at the end of the month and will operate from 4pm until midnight seven days a week with one car allocated to each division during the shift. The team’s remit will be to attend mental health-related incidents to provide on-scene assessments and diversion to the most appropriate care pathway including crisis alternatives to hospital.
Between two and five per cent of all calls to Derbyshire Police have a mental health element. While the figure has remained constant, the severity of the incidents attended and the level of crisis requiring a response appears to have increased. This has increased pressure on the force when, in many cases, the police are not the most appropriate agency to be leading the response.
Commissioner Angelique Foster has been working with NHS Mental Health Commissioners for some time and has also provided funding for a 24-7 Mental Health Helpline across Derbyshire, which is led by the NHS.
The facility provides officers with a dedicated number to call when attending incidents where individuals are in mental health crisis or where there are concerns around mental ill health. This allows them to speak to a mental health clinician who can provide advice and guidance to help the officer making decisions on the ground.
However, a recent review undertaken by the Commissioner’s team found police officers were still being removed from the frontline when dealing with mental health incidents for substantial amounts of time on shift.
To solve the issue, Commissioner Angelique Foster has been working together with Derbyshire Police and NHS Commissioners to agree a different approach.
The Street Triage Service ensures police officers and CPNs attend incidents together to deliver a comprehensive response on the ground.
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