A new agreement aiming to protect NHS staff from violent behaviour while protecting people with mental health issues has been drawn up by four police services.
Together with the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service and NHS Protect, the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and West Mercia police forces, covering a population of 5.6 million, have all signed up.
The agreement will aim to improve communication between the police and the NHS, as well as strengthen the prosecution processes for those who assault NHS staff.
Nick Aronin, West Midlands area security management specialist for NHS Protect, said “All parties to the new agreement have worked hard together to reach this point and will continue to do so.
“We recognise the difficulties associated with incidents where mental health may be a factor and we are due to publish comprehensive guidance later this year to help NHS bodies manage physical assaults in this sector.”
A newly created template sets out what information the NHS should provide to police on a suspect’s mental health condition, which is hoped to enable more informed and balanced charging decisions by the police.
In recent years NHS staff in the West Midlands have reported over 8,000 violent assaults a year, resulting in 93 criminal sanctions in 2010/2011 and 122 in 2011/12.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: “Our officers are working hard to drive down crime and bring offenders to justice.
“By working together in this way with the NHS, Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and others, we can give health professionals the protection they deserve and ensure offenders are brought before the courts where appropriate.”