Mental Health team working with North Wales Police in control room

Mental health clinicians have teamed up with North Wales Police to provide a new mental health triage service based at the Force Control Centre in St Asaph.

The service aims to help for people identified as being in mental health crisis and to improve the flow of information between North Wales Police and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

North Wales Police has a high number of detentions under the Section 136 of the Mental Health Act compared to similar sized forces. However, only a small percentage of these detentions result in patients being formally admitted to hospital under the act, which demonstrates the need for a different approach.

The new team which has been up and running since mid- January is comprised of six Betsi-Cadwalladr University Health Board practitioners from a variety of backgrounds.

The team works with North Wales Police to improve patient outcomes for those who come in to contact with the criminal justice system while suffering with mental health issues and operates across custody suites and within Magistrate’s Courts. The clinicians review police incidents in which mental health is a factor and provide expert advice directly to officers, but won’t attend incidents to deal directly with the public.

The team also provides a point of contact for officers dealing with individuals in mental health crisis and makes recommendations on patient care, liaise with mental health units on behalf of officers and make referrals to other services. The final decision on use of Section 136 detention order will remain with officers.

Inspector Jason Davies said; “Police are often first on the scene at an incident. We often have little choice but to detain the person until health treatment can be provided. The idea of the triage is to make sure officers are fully informed when having to make such difficult decisions, and that the person receives the appropriate care.

“A partnership between the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and North Wales Police rovides the most appropriate service to people with issues relating to their mental health at the earliest opportunity – and saves time and money for the police, ambulance and health services.”

Ruth Joyce, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Criminal Justice Liaison Service Manager, said: “North Wales Police often deal with the most vulnerable members of our communities who are in crisis, sometimes with limited access to health services.

“This service will improve partnership working and allow officers and staff within criminal justice agencies access to appropriate support and knowledge. The practitioners, who have a vast knowledge of mental health, will provide meaningful information, assessment and advice on alternative approaches in order for officers to make an informed choice about how to assist the individuals they come across on a daily basis.”

Posted by Matt Pearce