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Huge strides in mental health provision on Teesside

police officer patrol

Fewer people in mental health crisis are being taken to police cells thanks to an innovative scheme which places nurses alongside police officers on the streets.

The Street Triage Scheme began as a pilot in 2012 between Cleveland Police and Tees, Esk and Wear Valley’s NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) and has continued for the last five years.

Since its inception, the scheme has led to a 97% reduction in people going into police custody to await a mental health assessment from 321 people in 2011/12 to 9 in 2016/17. There has also been a 57% reduction in the use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act as a result of Street Triage in Cleveland.

The scheme sees highly trained mental health nurses accompany officers to incidents where it is believed that people need immediate mental health support. Nurses can provide a mental health assessment and have access to care records at the scene. They will either carry out the assessment at the scene or ensure that that the person in crisis is transferred directly to the Crisis Assessment Suite at Roseberry Park to be cared for by qualified mental health staff.

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “A police cell is not an appropriate place of safety for people experiencing mental health crisis. Being held in a police cell can often only make matters worse. The Street Triage Scheme has been extremely successful in Cleveland. We have a fantastic partnership with Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust and the strength of the relationship can only benefit the people of Teesside.”

Jane O’Neil, Crisis Assessment Suite and Street Triage Team Manager for TEWV said: “By working in partnership with our local police force we can make sure that people in a mental health crisis that come into contact with police officers get the most appropriate care as quickly as possible.

“Our partnership work has not only meant that less people are being unnecessarily detained, but that we are supporting police officers to better understand mental health issues, and helping them learn how to deal more effectively with people in such situations.”

Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin said: “The Street Triage Scheme has been invaluable in ensuring that people with mental ill health are taken to an appropriate place of safety and dealt with by the right specialists.

“Our officers can be released back to the streets to deal with on-going incidents rather than transporting people to police custody unnecessarily.

“We still have work to do to ensure that we improve even more, but we have made huge strides across Cleveland to improve the service delivered to those in crisis.”

Posted on Tuesday 15th August 2017
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