Mental health staff are working with police to make sure people who are acutely unwell receive the right help, treatment and support as quickly as possible, instead of being seen in a police station.
Dealing with police officers and being taken to police stations is often the last thing people in crisis need – let alone want.
.To prevent this happening, a new initiative from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust has ensured the crisis team has access to a police car, now based at its Maudsley Hospital site. This means nurses will be able to accompany police officers to incidents where professional mental health support and advice is needed.
This service is available overnight – from 5pm to 5am – helping people served by the Trust in four boroughs, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Croydon.
A police officer, based at the Trust during these hours, is on hand to scan police radios to identify cases the team should attend.
Community Psychiatric Nurse Ruby Melrose, who is part of the Crisis Assessment Team, said: “The reason I’m excited about this is because often people end up with the police when they don’t need to be.
“It is about getting mental health services to service users as soon as possible, and getting them the correct and most appropriate treatment. People find it quite hard accessing services and A&E.
“Hopefully we will be able to get to people quickly and support them on the pathway to recovery.”
Ruby said the police are gradually getting used to the idea they can call the team for support in these circumstances.
The scheme has only been running for around a week and the team have already been out on blue light calls in the police car.
London Ambulance Service is also expected to join the scheme in the coming months.