Street triage pilots

The Department of Health is funding pilot schemes, managed by nine police forces, in partnership with local NHS organisations. Some other forces already have schemes in operation, including Leicestershire Police.

In these schemes, mental health professionals provide on the spot advice to police officers who are dealing with people with possible mental health problems. This advice can include an opinion on a person’s condition, or appropriate information sharing about a person’s health history. The aim is, where possible, to help police officers make appropriate decisions, based on a clear understanding of the background to these situations. This should lead to people receiving appropriate care more quickly, leading to better outcomes and a reduction in the use of section 136.

An evaluation is planned for 2014.

British Transport Police and NHS London – Operation Partner

In February 2013 British Transport Police (BTP) and NHS London launched a pilot scheme bringing together Psychiatric Nurses to work alongside Public Protection officers and staff. Their remit was to apply a multi-agency approach to the vulnerable people who come to the BTP’s notice on the railway network, often in suicidal circumstances. The overall aim is to provide a managed, risk based approach that effectively moves people from crisis to care.

This is achieved through a joint assessment of all cases over the preceding 24 hours and the formulation of a joint plan to reducing the risk of harm and to engage relevant care pathways. The NHS staff have access to health information systems and provide a telephone service to officers on the ground, giving information and advice so that more informed decisions can be made in the best interests of the individual concerned. At the time of writing, 689 cases have been jointly reviewed.

– Mark Smith, British Transport Police

The Street Triage Car in Leicestershire

“Our street triage car has reduced the section 136 detention rate by 33% on the level prior to the introduction of the car” – Leicestershire Constabulary.

Since January 2013, Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire Partnership Trust (LPT) have jointly operated a mental health triage car, which is driven by a police officer and contains a mental health nurse from the crisis service operated by LPT.

It aims to improve the service provided to the people who police encounter who may be experiencing difficulties with their mental health or learning disability; responding at the earliest opportunity and then directing people to the most appropriate service available. The car provides an initial point of contact for police officers on the beat who encounter incidents which have a mental health element, before exercising their police powers.

The mental health nurse provides the training, experience and legal powers of a registered nurse, can conduct a mental health assessment, has mobile access to mental health services and information systems, and has experience of working practices and procedures in the NHS and in particular mental health services.

The police officer provides the training, experience and legal powers of a constable. These include powers under criminal law, the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act, has mobile access to criminal justice information systems, experience of working practices and procedures within the criminal justice system. The officer has been trained in public order and methods for gaining entry to locked or barricaded premises, and is qualified to higher driving standards, enabling emergency response if required.

The approach in Leicestershire appears to have led to a reduction in section 136 detentions of 33% of the level prior to the introduction of the car. The average time to help people when they are detained is now five hours and the car deals with 120 cases per month.

– Peter Jackson, Leicestershire Police