Police work to provide better care for people in mental health crisis in Hertfordshire

PUBLISHED: 12:22 29 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:26 29 March 2016

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has teamed up with other organisations to provide better mental health care in Hertfordshire

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has teamed up with other organisations to provide better mental health care in Hertfordshire

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A mental health action plan has been making a difference in Hertfordshire.

The Concordat partnership was formed in 2014, and was signed by more than 24 organisations across the county, including the county council, Hertfordshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

Progress made by the partnership includes the introduction of an advisory mental health nurse to guide police, as well as a ‘street triage’ pilot and specialist training instigated for frontline police officers.

‘A Year of Mental Health’ has also been launched in Hertfordshire to raise awareness and reduce the stigma and discrimination attached to the issue.

A member of Herts Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust’s (HPFT) Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team is now stationed in the police force communications room to support police when they are called to an incident involving any person who may be under or in need of HPFT services, and when considering use of the Section 136 (Mental Health Act) detention power, which can unnecessarily put people into ‘a place of safety’ when more appropriate and less intensive support may be required.

They can also advise on welfare calls, missing people, service users causing concern about mental health issues in a non-public place and voluntary admission to A&E.

OPCC head of policy and engagement, Dr Amie Birkhamshaw, said: “The Concordat is making excellent progress and the commissioner is very pleased to be playing a part in ensuring that those suffering a mental health crisis can more easily access the support and care they need.

“In the Police & Crime Plan, ‘Everybody’s Business’, the commissioner has pledged to reduce the use of Section 136s and to strive to prevent those in mental health crisis being criminalised unnecessarily.”

DCI Fiona Gaskell, who leads on mental health issues for Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: “As police officers, we have a crucial role in working with and supporting people with mental health problems.

“We may be the first to respond to urgent situations and have to make quick decisions to assess the situation, as well as the needs of the individuals involved, ensuring their safety and that of the general public.”

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