Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds has said the way officers deal with people suffering a mental health crisis “dramatically needs to change”.
The commissioner has welcomed a new agreement between police, local government and health care providers that aims to improve the care for people with mental health issues.
The Mental Health Concordat commits each agency to work together to improve care and support so people in crisis because of a mental health condition are kept safe and find the help and support they need, whatever the circumstance and from which ever service they turn to first.
Northamptonshire Police has recently started a three month Street Triage Pilot, which involves a psychiatric nurse being sent with police officers to attend incidents where it has been assessed by the force control room that a mental health assessment might be required.
Mr Simmonds said: “I think this concordat could have a huge effect on the provision of services to those that are most in need. I hope this agreement marks the start of a change in attitudes to the way that all of those organisations signed up to the agreement currently deal with the issue of mental health. It is a growing issue and one where it is vital that we get our response right.
“I have consistently said that in order for the police force to be fit for the 21st century, we need to think innovatively about the way we resolve these important issues and improve the service that we are offering to the public.
“We know that nationally in 36 per cent of all detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983, that individuals were taken to police cells, and not a place of safety where trained health professionals are on hand to offer advice and assistance and that is something which dramatically needs to change.”