New mental health scheme begins

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A pilot scheme to help reduce the number of people detained in custody under the Mental Health Act (MHA) will begin in Scarborought today (Monday).

The street triage project is a joint initiative between North Yorkshire Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust which will see mental health nurses attending police incidents to carry out immediate assessments if the police suspect an individual has a mental illness.

The scheme has been successfully piloted in the Cleveland area which saw a large reduction in the number of people unnecessarily detained under the MHA. When police attend an incident and believe that an individual involved has a mental illness, they will contact the street triage team.

A mental health nurse will carry out a comprehensive assessment to see whether the person needs help from mental health, social care or other support services.

The aim is to reduce the number of people who are detained under Section 136 of the MHA.

It means those people who do need care and treatment receive the right services quickly.

The nurses, who are based at Cross Lane Hospital, will use an unmarked vehicle to provide a confidential, on-the-spot assessment of the person’s needs.

Chief Constable Dave Jones welcomed the news. He said: “It is vital that people with mental health issues receive the most appropriate care when they need it.

“Police officers are regularly called to incidents involving people who are in need of care and support, but often have no option other than to take them into police custody for their own and other people’s safety. The street triage project means that they will receive immediate and appropriate help on the spot.

“Together with the recent opening of two places of safety in Scarborough and York for people detained under the Mental Health Act, this is extremely welcome news for the area.

“The project should see a big reduction in the demand for police, ambulance and hospital accident and emergency departments.”

The service has been backed by the Home Office and has received national praise, including from the Home Secretary, Theresa May who highlighted the service in Cleveland as ‘best work on the ground’ at the national Police Federation Conference 2013 as she pledged the roll out of the scheme as pilots in other areas.