Published on: 9 June 2023
A new mental health street triage service has been launched by Derbyshire Constabulary and the NHS to improve the way people in mental health crisis are treated in emergency situations.
The scheme will see police officers and trained mental health practitioners from Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in cars and being deployed to incidents when it is felt that someone may need immediate mental health support.
One of the main aims of the scheme is to ensure that people are directed to the right service for the help they require, and it will also ensure response police officers are released from the incidents to allow them to respond to other emergency calls.
The service has been introduced following a successful trial last year. The triage cars will operate from 4pm until midnight, seven days a week, with one car allocated to the north of the county and one to the south. The team, who will be in constant contact with Derbyshire Mental Health Helpline and Support service, and police control room, will attend mental health-related incidents and provide on-scene assessments and diversion to the most appropriate care pathway, including crisis alternatives to hospital.
Fiona White, project lead for Adult Acute Assessment services at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Usually, when a person presents a risk of harming themselves or others, police officers often have to detain them under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act for their own safety or to protect the public. They will then undergo an assessment by mental health professionals at one of our hospital units.
“The launch of the mental health street triage service means that the assessment process can happen much earlier, and the need to detain people unnecessarily is reduced. The street triage mental health practitioners can make an appropriate referral into the healthcare service that is needed, in collaboration with the team at Derbyshire Mental Health Helpline and Support Service.
“Research has shown that the time between 4pm and midnight is when the majority of Section 136 Detentions take place. We are excited to be working with the police to provide the right care for Derbyshire people who are in crisis or distress during these hours. Although parts of Derbyshire have had schemes like this before, this will be the first time that the whole of Derbyshire will benefit from a fully operational street triage service.”
Chief Inspector Glenn Hoggard, who is the mental health lead for the force said: “The feedback from the trial we ran last year was overwhelmingly positive.
“The number of calls made to the police often involve a mental health element and in many cases the police are not the most appropriate agency to be leading on the response.
“The introduction of this triage service will ensure that response officers can return to other calls for service and are not tied up for hours dealing with an incident.”
Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster has co-funded the triage service which will have four dedicated officers.
To enable this service to be provided the force is working with partner agencies including Mental Health and the Ambulance service.