Our new partnership with a local police force is set to improve the support provided for people with mental health illnesses that come into contact with the police.
The Trust has joined forces with Durham Constabulary to deliver a new street triage service across County Durham.
As part of the new service, our mental health practitioners will work alongside police officers to offer mental health advice and guidance, and where necessary attend incidents to assess the mental health of people who have come into contact with police officers.
Commenting on the new partnership Fran Bergin, the Trust’s adult mental health locality manager for Durham and Darlington, said “Increasingly, police officers can be called to incidents where people with mental ill-health might be in distress. Officers don’t have the knowledge or experience that health professionals might have in order to deal with such situations.
“By working alongside officers we can give advice, guidance and reassurance and make sure that the person experiencing mental health problems receives the most appropriate support and treatment as soon as possible.”
Mike Barton, chief constable of Durham Constabulary, said: “Having the ability to call on the skills and experience of mental health practitioners is invaluable. When someone is suffering from mental health problems sending a police officer is not always appropriate.
“The street triage staff will be able to quickly assess people and determine the best course of action for them and in some cases this could prevent an incident escalating.”
In 2009 the Trust was one of the first in the country to pilot a street triage service in Teesside, which had a significant impact and paved the way for other similar services across the UK.
Ron Hogg, Durham Police, Crime and Victim’s Commissioner commented “We have seen how well other Street Triage teams have worked and how they have reduced the numbers of people being detained inappropriately under the Mental Health Act. I have no doubt that our new partnership will have a similar positive impact, it will also help to free-up police officers to respond to other incidents, and provide a better outcome for the people who need help.”
A team of three mental health staff will operate between 2pm and 12pm, seven days a week. One member of the team will work directly in the police force control room and two will provide a mobile resource for community based assessment with police.
The new service will provide telephone support to patients and police officers/staff, as well as general mental health and mental health act information for police officers to help inform them whilst they carry out their duties. The street triage team will also, where necessary, attend police call-outs to provide face to face assessments and sign posting for people who may require support when they come into contact with officers.
The partnership approach will equip police officers with wider knowledge and a better understanding of issues affecting those with mental health issues. It will also make sure that people receive timely and appropriate support and allow officer time to be freed-up to attend other incidents.