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Commissioner calls for appropriate medical support for people with mental health issues

Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping has spoken out about the need to ensure that people with mental health issues receive medical support in a medical environment – not confinement a police custody suite.

“All too often the police are called to arrest people with mental health issues because there is no other agency available to help them.  These people then end up in police custody cells until appropriate support can be provided,” he said. “And that can  take a while.

“These people are ill and they are vulnerable,but last time I looked that wasn’t a criminal offence.  That’s why we are working hard with our partners in the health service to see how this problem can be addressed.”

Plans include the adoption of a ‘Triage Car’ where mental health nurses will accompany police officers to incidents where it is believed someone may need immediate mental health support.  This method is proven to help people with mental health problems who are sometimes detained in the wrong environment, so that they can receive the treatment they need. It can also reduce demands on valuable police time.

Mr Tipping continued: “We are all clear that Police Custody Cells should not be used as a place of safety for people with mental health problems.  Vulnerable people need the right type of medical care, while monitoring the well-being of mentally ill people while they are in custody takes an enormous amount of police resources which are then diverted from tackling crime.

“We are presently talking with our partners within the NHS to ensure that we provide the most appropriate facilities to vulnerable people.We all agree that it is best to use hospital facilities whenever it is possible.”

Ends

Media Enquiries:   Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401

Posted on Wednesday 16th October 2013
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