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Mental health nurses to join police patrols

Mental health nurses will patrol with police officers in four new pilot sites to improve responses to mental health emergencies, Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb has announced.

The street triage scheme will see mental health nurses accompanying officers to incidents where police believe people need immediate mental health support.

The innovative scheme, funded by the Department of Health and backed by the Home Office, will help people with mental health problems who are sometimes detained in the wrong environment.

Today the first four areas have been chosen to pilot the mental health scheme, which will start in the summer. The police forces working with Department of Health on this initiative include North Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall, Sussex and Derbyshire.

Two street triage services in Cleveland and Leicestershire have already shown that nurses and police can work together to achieve better results for patients by making sure they receive the treatment they need. This also reduced demands on valuable police time.

Last month, the Home Secretary announced that the Department of Health would be working with the Home Office to pilot 'street triage' with the police this year. This is part of a wider Department of Health and Home Office work plan on policing and mental health.

The Department of Health has secured further funding to extend this pilot scheme to more police forces and a number of further areas have already expressed an interest. More announcements are planned in the near future.

Lamb said: “In some areas the police already do an excellent job in terms of their handling of situations involving people with mental health problems and work well with health colleagues to make sure that mentally ill people in crisis get the care and attention they need, but we need to make that the reality everywhere.
“We are launching these pilots to make sure that people with mental health issues get the right care, at the right time and in the right place.
“We know the barriers often lie at the crossroads between police and health services. That is why we are working with the Home Office and leaders of the police to look at how we can improve services for the very vulnerable people involved.”

The initative is part of wider work that the Department of Health and its stakeholders are undertalking to improve crisis care for mental health patients.