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Partnership Mental Health Working Helps Dorset Police Reach Major Milestone

Collaboration between Dorset Police, Dorset Healthcare and the Office of the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner is continuing to reduce the number of times a custody suite is used as a place of safety for those suffering a mental health crisis.

July 2015 was the first month that a custody suite was not used as a place of safety for people suffering a mental health episode.  Every person with mental health needs went to an appropriate healthcare setting. 

Three key tactics have been adopted which have led to reaching the milestone including a review of healthcare and policing policies when dealing with those suffering mental health, an innovative street triage service that gives real time advice to front line officers as well as the appointment of a mental health co-ordinator in September 2014 who reviews every incident where a mental health sufferer comes into contact with the police. 

Since the change in policy those exhibiting signs of mental health and alcohol/drug use or violence are no longer turned away at healthcare settings, but admission is based upon a risk assessment by hospital staff and the police. 

Back in December, the street triage scheme received praise nationally from the Home Secretary, Theresa May. The project started in June 2014 and aims 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.  

The scheme initially saw mental health practitioners assisting police officers on patrol on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 7pm to 8.30am. However, following the success of the initial project, the service was extended to a 7 day a week service in April. 

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 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 and it is fantastic to reach this major landmark. This is a huge step forwards in our partnership work between health services and the police.”

Mental Health Co-ordinator Simon Thorneycroft, 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.”

Issued: 17 August 2015