Coventry & Warwickshire

Health nurses go on police call-outs in Coventry

Mental health nurses have begun going to police call-outs in Coventry as part of a nationwide initiative.

Health chiefs said nurses would go to incidents where police believed people "need immediate mental health support".

Clinical lead Dr Vicky Hancock said the street triage scheme aimed to ensure people were helped more quickly.

Ch Insp Sean Russell said a pilot project in Birmingham had reduced the number of people with mental health issues being taken into custody.

The move enables people to be assessed by medical staff at the scene.

Criminalised

Dr Hancock said it meant quicker decisions and a reduction in pressure on health services.

"... for every £1 spent on street triage we are getting £3 back in terms of savings and in terms of a reduction of waiting times", she said.

Ch Insp Russell said the project represented a "cultural shift" with police sharing more information and working closely with healthcare workers.

"Around 20% of police demand is due to mental health issues - but because in the past we've not worked alongside agencies like the ambulance service, hospitals and mental health providers, it's meant far too many people ending up in police custody and essentially being criminalised for being unwell," he said.

He said since the pilot scheme began in Birmingham and Solihull fewer than 200 people had been detained under the Mental Health Act during more than 1,000 call-outs.

He added that only two of those people were taken to police stations - "one of the lowest figures in the country" - with the rest taken to secure health facilities.

The Coventry project follows others around the country, including pilots by the British Transport Police and Metropolitan Police force.

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