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Cambridgeshire Police response to people in mental health crisis hailed a success

POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite has marked the first anniversary of Cambridgeshire’s Integrated Mental Health Team in Police Headquarters, Huntingdon.

The team, which consists of three mental health nurses from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), provides police officers with live clinical advice on the best way to help people in mental health crisis.

Year-long evaluation commissioned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has found that the service has reduced the time police officers and staff spend dealing with incidents involving people with suspected mental health issues, whilst at the same time improving their confidence and skills. The service has also meant that less people have been taken to A&E reducing pressure on emergency staff.

Police officers have also reported better understanding of services available for people in mental health crisis across the county.

In the first year, the team, which is based at the Force Control Room at Police Headquarters in Huntingdon, reviewed 10,715 incidents, 83% of which are known to CPFT for having existing mental health issues.

This approach is part of a pioneering First Response Service run by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust which was recently awarded more than £3 million investment. The service is backed by a Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat Declaration signed by agencies to improve outcomes for people in mental health crisis at a local level.

A serving Police Officer in Peterborough said:

“We feel emboldened because we are supported by the nurses who have the knowledge and understanding. Their expertise has given us greater confidence. We will always be scared when someone is saying they want to take their own lives. We can’t walk away but the nurses can help us make the final decision.”

Deputy Chief Constable, Alan Baldwin, who said: “I have spoken to several officers over the year who have told me how much they value having a mental health expert available to provide advice and support when they are dealing with someone who is, or may be, in a mental health crisis.  As Deputy Chief Constable and the regional police lead for Mental Health it is particularly reassuring to see such an overwhelmingly positive evaluation for the approach we are taking and the benefits it brings to those we serve and colleagues.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, said:

“I am absolutely delighted to hear that the service has been so effective. While this is clearly only one part of the wider partnership response to improving the provision of support for people in suspected mental health crisis, it enables officers and staff, who are often the first point of contact, to improve the way they respond.  It is heartening to hear that vulnerable individuals in crisis are receiving the right care, in the right place, at the right time, when the police are the first point of contact.

“I continue to work with senior colleagues within the Constabulary and Clinical Commissioning Group to safeguard the dignity of those facing mental health problems, giving them the best chance of returning to full health. There is always more work to do but I am confident this service in particular is really making a difference.”

Julie Frake-Harris, Interim Director of Operation for CPFT, said:

“Having our Integrated Mental Health Team working directly alongside officers from Cambridgeshire Police has proved highly effective over the last year. Frontline police officers often have to deal with incidents involving members of the public having a mental health crisis. But they now have a direct line to our staff who can advise on the most appropriate help in the quickest possible time.”

Jason is pictured with members of the Integrated Mental Health Team.