Cambridgeshire mental health scheme is a success

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A mental health programme’s successes have been marked on the first anniversary of the police scheme.

Cambridgeshire’s Integrated Mental Health Team moved in to Cambridgeshire police headquarters, a year ago.

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 per cent of which are known to CPFT for having existing mental health issues.

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.”

The programme has also been welcomed by police officers, with one serving Police Officer in Peterborough saying: “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.”