Derbyshire police, working in partnership with Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has launched a ‘Street Triage’ pilot scheme aimed at improving the way people with a mental illness are treated in emergency situations.
Previously, when a person presented a risk of harming themselves or others, police officers could detain them under the Mental Health Act for their own safety or to protect others. They would then undergo an assessment by mental health professionals.
To improve the treatment of people experiencing a mental illness, Derbyshire police has teamed up with Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to provide a new one year Street Triage pilot where officers on the beat believe someone needs immediate mental health support in Derby.
The pilot will be operational seven days a week from 4pm to midnight. Research has shown that during this time is when the majority of Section 136 detainments happen.
Mental health nurses will accompany police officers to incidents where it is suspected that someone is a risk to themselves or those around them due to their mental ill health. Upon arrival at the incident the nurse may carry out an assessment or hold a brief clinical conversation with the person to make a professional opinion regarding their current health needs. Advice will then be provided if an appropriate referral into the healthcare service is needed.
Nurses will also give telephone advice to police officers attending incidents to support officers’ decisions in referring people into the services they need.
Superintendent Kul Mahay has been involved in the implementation of the scheme. He said: “The triage project is about ensuring people with mental health issues are kept out of police custody and receive the right treatment and care.
“By working in partnership with health professionals, we will also be able to reduce demand on valuable police and A&E resources, making sure that officers and hospital staff are free to deal with other emergencies.”
Tracey Holtom, Service Line Manager for Forensic and Rehabilitation Services for Derbyshire Healthcare, said: “The police are very skilled but they are having to deal more and more with people with mental ill health. By being assessed by the nurse on call, these people can be directed to the most appropriate service for them – like a counselling service, GP, other mental health experts – and quickly.
“The new system means this could be done in their surroundings or places familiar to them, rather than the officer having to take them somewhere and then the assessment is done.”