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Extra funding helps police mental health team grow

An innovative partnership project aimed at improving care for people with mental health problems while dealing with demand on policing, is continuing to go from strength to strength with support from Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). 

Following a pilot project with the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust almost five years ago, which placed mental health specialists in the police control room for the first time, funding from the PCC, Constabulary, health partners and district councils has helped fund the continued growth of the Norfolk Police Integrated Mental Health Team.

Funding from the PCC for 2017/18 enabled the Force to add two new nurses to the team which, now with seven members, has gone far beyond its initial brief of helping improve the police response to vulnerable callers.

As well as supporting and training police to identify, assess and respond to potential risk and harm at the earliest opportunity, the team also provides advice to those in mental health crisis, diverting individuals to appropriate services.

With the addition of the two new posts funded by the PCC, the team has been able to increase the number of joint visits to vulnerable members of the community its nurses attend with police officers.  It has also enabled, on occasion, nurses to be deployed from the control room to support frontline officers at the scene of incidents.

Speaking on World Mental Health Day about the work of the team, PCC Lorne Green said: “The establishment of such a dedicated team of mental health nurses within the police control room has proven a real success and I want to recognise their hard work and dedication.

“The team is not only helping some very vulnerable people while easing ever-increasing demands on our officers and staff, it’s also providing better mental health support for our officers and staff who, through the challenges of policing, are often subject to situations of great complexity, danger and stress.

“Now, by aligning the nurses to districts to further build relationships with frontline officers and partners, the benefits and value of this team are being felt right across the county.”

Chief Superintendent Craig Miller of Norfolk Police said: “The mental health team in the police control room are an invaluable resource that provides support and guidance to all areas of policing.  The additional funding from the PCC for the two new nurses has improved the capacity within the team and created the capability for a preventative approach with partners to support early intervention and improved outcomes around mental health for the communities of Norfolk.’

For 2017/18, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN) provided £112,000 of funding for the Integrated Mental Health Team in the Norfolk Police Control Room.

This included an investment of £60,000 to build capacity for spontaneous deployment, and provide further resource to train police officers to respond to people in mental health crisis and offer support to officers in managing their own mental health.

In the first six months of 2018, the team reviewed in excess of 3,000 incidents logged by police, and responded to over 4,000 referrals. More than a third of those referred to the team were not already known to mental health services. A breakdown of the calls dealt with by the team has shown 34% relate to concerns for safety.