New initiative aimed at enhancing health services for those in a crisis
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Kent Police is part of a new initiative between police forces nationally and the NHS aimed at enhancing the health services available to those in crisis.
Right Care Right Person will be adopted by all forces in England and Wales and will see vulnerable people receiving the specialist health support they need from the appropriate agency.
Guidance, developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing will help police and partners work closely together to ensure health incidents are managed by health-based services unless there is an immediate threat to life or crime being committed.
Last year Kent Police received 36,417 calls that related to mental health, just over seven per cent of the total calls received in 2022 (504,645).
The force already has strong working relationships with the NHS, Kent County Council and Medway Council, and there are a number of existing services available to help officers and those in a crisis, including a dedicated direct phoneline for officers to speak to a mental health professional when dealing with someone in crisis, wellbeing cafes and Safe havens.
Due to excellent partnership working in Kent, the number of police detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act has consistently fallen each year from 2,065 in 2019 to 1,798 in 2020, 1,310 in 2021 and 881 in 2022.
Superintendent Pete Steenhuis, force lead for mental health, said: ‘It is not a crime to experience a mental health crisis and those who do, deserve to receive the best possible care from the organisations best placed to provide it.
‘Whilst Kent Police will always have a role to play when there is an immediate threat to life, a breach of the peace or a crime taking place, people in crisis should not be detained by police for long periods whilst waiting for assessment or support from the right health based agency.
‘The national ‘Right Care Right Person’ agreement means Kent Police and all other UK forces will no longer attend as many health-related incidents unless there is a significant safety risk or a crime being committed. These calls will instead be managed by the most appropriate partner agency, which in addition to freeing up police time to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour will also ensure some of the most vulnerable members of our community receive the appropriate level of care faster.
‘We have a very strong working relationship with our local colleagues in health and social care and are grateful for their support and collaboration on this important initiative.
'People who experience mental health issues have access to a wide range of fantastic support services in Kent and Medway and this new national agreement will help ensure they receive the right care and expertise at the earliest opportunity.’
NHS Kent and Medway Chief Medical Officer Dr Kate Langford said: ‘It’s really important that people receive the care that is right for them as soon as possible. We already work collaboratively with Kent Police to make sure we have shared plans, so mental health crisis services are always accessible, responsive and high-quality.
‘NHS, council and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations continue to work together with partners to increase the range of support available.
‘Support services already include wellbeing/crisis cafes and safe havens. New and improved services planned include two crisis houses and investment in a dedicated mental health patient transport provider to help care for and take people who need urgent admission to a mental health hospital bed or health-based place of safety.’