A pilot scheme in Thanet will have mental health experts attending incidents with police

Kent Police

A qualified health practitioner will accompany police officers attending incidents involving someone suffering a mental crisis in Thanet under a new pilot scheme.

The street triage project began on Friday 7 April  and will focus on providing the best and most appropriate care for those suffering a crisis.

The pilot, set up by the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) and Kent Police, will run for the coming months at key times when demand for police attendance at mental health-related incidents is higher than normal.

In 2016, Kent police detained a total of 1,256 people under section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

Chief Superintendent Rachel Curtis of Kent Police said: “The street triage scheme will mean a qualified medical professional attending mental health related incidents in Thanet that have been reported to the police.

“Our police officers receive mental health training the same way they receive first aid training but they are not medical experts.

“The pilot will mean those in crisis will receive qualified medical help and the officers will have on-the-scene advice from an expert to make informed decisions.

“The number one priority here is making sure those suffering a mental health crisis get the most appropriate care and treatment.”

Previous measures

The street triage scheme is the latest in a number measures KMPT and Kent Police have put in place to address mental health in police incidents in the county.

A Mental Health Concordat was set up in February 2014 to help all organisations involved gain a better understanding of mental health issues and work is currently underway in preparation of law changes which mean only in exceptional circumstances will adults suffering a mental health crisis be taken to police custody.

KMPT’s Director of Transformation, Vincent Badu, said: “We are delighted to be involved in the delivery of this pilot scheme, which will offer a local response to anyone in crisis.

“The scheme demonstrates the importance of partnership working and, through the Concordat, we have agreed joint outcomes and measures which will enable us to capture all the improvements achieved.”

‘The right support’

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott added: “Cases involving mental health now amount for around a third of Kent Police time.

“I am pleased to see the return of a street triage scheme. I will be keeping a close eye on the scheme to see whether it helps deliver against the priorities set out within my Safer in Kent Plan.

“I also continue to welcome bids to my Mental Health and Policing Fund from projects which free up police officers’ time while also ensuring that people in mental health crisis get the right support from the right person.”