Vera Baird

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Street Triage team’s success continues for Northumbria Police

7th March 2017

Latest figures show continued success for Northumbria Police’s nationally praised Street Triage service – demonstrating a continued commitment to keeping people with mental health issues out of custody in Northumbria.

The Street Triage team which operates in collaboration with Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) is a service that comprises of a mental health nurse working alongside a dedicated police officer who patrol together.

The initiative involves the team of professionals making an on-street assessment to make sure an individual gets the best care possible when concerns about their mental state are reported to police – this is designed to help avoid preventable detentions when using Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

Over the past year, the number of Section 136 detentions made has fallen from 289 in 2015 to 136 in 2016. This equates to an average monthly fall from 24 a month in 2015, to just 11 in 2016 – a 54% decrease within a year.

Last September the Chief Inspector of Hospitals from the Care Quality Commission rated  NTW’s mental health trust  as  ‘outstanding’ – one of the first in the country to receive this rating. Part of the report praised the triage scheme for its significant reduction in the number of people detained by the police, which was also viewed as outstanding  A report by the HMIC, also praised the work done by the Street Triage to ensure the right care is given to those suffering mental health illness.

The triage initiative was even featured in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) as part of a comprehensive study, which revealed the scheme had halved the number of police detentions under the Mental Health Act since its introduction.

Prior to the introduction of the Street Triage, police might have detained the individual under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act until they could pass them into the care of a mental health hospital, which can take time.

The team’s introduction has reduced demand on frontline staff and has helped ensure the best possible service is being delivered to those suffering from mental health issues in the region.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, said: “We are very proud of the work of our Street Triage team and are pleased that the positive impact it is having is being recognised as part of national studies and inspector reports. We are committed to leading the way in this field and as the numbers show – our approach is working.

“The triage really is an excellent example of partner agencies working together to ensure those detained by officers, who are thought to have a mental health illness, receive the most appropriate police response. Northumbria is doing well at this and this is thanks to the drive and determination of those involved, who are committed to offering an outstanding service for vulnerable people who come into police contact.”

Insp Steve Baker, force lead for mental health, said: “When we first set up the street triage team it was quite a radical idea but we knew it was necessary to deliver the best possible service to the public.

“People will often come into contact with police at their lowest points and it is incredibly important that we treat them fairly and proportionately regardless of the nature of the incident. That is even more important when we have concerns about an individual’s mental health and the street triage team will ensure they receive the appropriate support and the treatment that they need.

“The progress that has been made in the past two years is remarkable and it has taken a huge amount of demand off our frontline officers who now have more time to serve their local communities. It’s a great example of the benefits of working closely with partners and this could not happen without the shared enthusiasm of our officers and our NTW colleagues.”

Claire Witten, from the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW), who is the clinical lead for the street triage service said: “The Street Triage team has proven to be an example of excellent partnership working and since its launch it has gone from strength to strength. A mental health nurse working alongside a police officer to deliver rapid intervention to those in mental health crisis, wherever they may be, has shown that together we can reduce the number of S136 detentions and also ensure that those with mental health difficulties are pointed in the right direction of the best services to meet their needs.”

Northumbria Police is committed to working  together to improve the system of care and support so people in crisis because of a mental health condition. Northumbria Police is actively seeking to recruit experienced officers to deliver an outstanding service to the public and #BeTheDifference. To find out more information about the different roles available within Northumbria Police  visit http://careers.northumbria.police.uk/