Cells no place for those in mental health crises say Commissioners

Cells no place for those in mental health crises say Commissioners

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) across England and Wales are helping to shape how organisations will work together better to make sure that people in crisis receive urgent mental health care.

PCCs believe that those in mental health crises must be dealt with by people with the right skills, at the right time and in the right place. They are therefore committing to work with agencies across England and Wales to develop a joint plan of action for how they will work together to improve services.

The Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat is a national agreement between services and agencies involved in the care and support of people in crisis. It sets out how organisations will work together better to make sure that people in crisis receive urgent mental health care. All Police and Crime Commissioners have already signed up to the Concordat and local action plans are being put together.

Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill is Chairman of the APCC’s Working in Partnership to Reduce Crime Standing Group and is chairing a workshop at today’s Partnership Summit on reducing the use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. He said: “We need to make sure that the vulnerable receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place. They need to be looked after by a health care professional, not by a police officer and not in a police cell.

“The Mental Health Concordat brings Police and Crime Commissioners and partner agencies together under a joint approach for assessing and improving the care of people in mental health crisis. We are leading work to develop action plans to deliver the Mental Health Concordat’s principles. In several areas of the country, including Dorset and Staffordshire, pilot street triage schemes to improve mental health care for those in crisis have been recognised by the Home Secretary.

“The police have a critical role in helping those in mental health crisis but they should not be relied upon. Their role should be to identify the vulnerable and flag up issues to agencies but this only works if health services are available 24 hours a day. We need to foster closer relationships with health agencies across the country and ensure that the vulnerable receive the most appropriate care.”

Some areas have already seen significant reduction in use of S136 following introduction of local plans. More than half the forces across England and Wales now operate some form of street triage, delivering significantly improved responses to those with mental health needs who come into contact with the criminal justice system. PCCs have also been actively campaigning for new responses to young people and mental health services over the summer as well as lobbying Government for improvement.

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