Dorset among top 14 forces when supporting those suffering with mental health

An innovative mental health street triage service for Dorset continues to significantly reduce the number of times a custody suite has been used as a place of safety for those suffering a mental health crisis.

Dorset among top 14 forces when supporting those suffering with mental health

National data released today by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) shows that in Dorset for the 2015/16 financial year, police custody was used as a place of safety under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act on 10 occasions.

This is a reduction of 83 per cent on the previous year and an overall reduction of 91 per cent since the mental health triage scheme started in 2014.

On average, UK police forces detained 48 people per force, per year in custody under Section 136.

The project sees mental health practitioners assisting police officers on patrol every evening between the hours of 7pm and 3am. The aim is to provide police officers attending an incident with background medical information, advice and if needed, a full assessment regarding the mental health of a person.

As part of the street triage service, mental health practitioners from Dorset Healthcare conduct a telephone triage service to support police officers out on patrol, assisting officers when they are responding to emergency calls and giving advice to staff in police control rooms.

Officers are also able to request the assistance of the practitioners at the scene of incidents.

The service is available to people of all ages, whether they have learning disabilities, personality disorder, substance misuse, or mental health issues, and will also liaise with other agencies for continued support afterwards.

This scheme diverts people away from the Criminal Justice System, when appropriate, and provides access to community-based services, thereby ensuring that their health and social care needs are known and provided for by appropriate services.

Stan Sadler, Service Manager for Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion and Street Triage at Dorset Healthcare, said: “The street triage pilot has given access to vital information on treatment approaches; ensuring operational partnerships are much better equipped in these situations. Joint working between health services, social care agencies and police provides more informed and coordinated responses to people experiencing a mental health crisis.

“The opportunity to work in partnership during implementation and delivery of street triage in Dorset has given some outstanding rewards. Use of police custody as a place of safety, for example, has been almost eradicated during the pilot period.

“It is essential that we maintain our momentum through partnerships, integrate intervention into a wider crisis care pathway and continue to pioneer innovative approaches to crisis resolution.”

Chief Inspector Guy Shimmons, from Dorset Police said: “This is welcome news for Dorset. This scheme ensures the most appropriate care for vulnerable people and also provides proper support for police officers. By working together in this way, we can improve services for people with mental health issues.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “It is crucial that people with mental health problems get the right care in the right place, at the right time. I am delighted that this scheme is consistently reducing the number of people who are detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

“With the support of health professionals, officers have the assistance they need to treat vulnerable people appropriately in times of crisis. This is a huge achievement in our partnership work between health services and the police.”

The Office of the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner provides a major contribution to funding the triage scheme, alongside contributions from Dorset Police, Bournemouth Borough Council, Poole Borough Council, Dorset County Council, NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS England. 

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