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Staffordshire Police to action new approach for people with mental health issues

Changes to how Staffordshire Police responds to those experiencing mental health or medical issues will be introduced this week.

Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Chris Noble. Photo: Kerry Ashdown

The Right Care, Right Person approach is being rolled out by forces across the country this year – and in Staffordshire it will be introduced in phases, starting with the first on Thursday.

The aim is to ensure that when there are concerns for a person’s welfare linked to mental health, medical or social care issues, the organisation with the most appropriate skills, training and experience will respond.

Staffordshire Police’s Chief Constable Chris Noble was involved with the starting up of the scheme in Humberside.

In his report to this month’s police performance meeting he said: “Right Care, Right Person is an approach designed to ensure that when there are concerns for a person’s welfare linked to mental health, medical or social care issues, the right person with the right skills, training and experience will respond. In many cases, this may not be the police.

“Similar schemes have already been successfully adopted by forces in Humberside, Lincolnshire, Hampshire and London.

"We have been working closely with stakeholders since the summer, including local authorities, the NHS and ambulance service, to ensure that all organisations understand what Right Care, Right Person will mean and what they need to put in place.

“In the first instance, we will focus on ‘concern for welfare’ calls, where there is no immediate risk to life, and which are better served by our health and social care colleagues.

"I am convinced that Right Care, Right Person will lead to a better service for our most vulnerable citizens, when a police response is not the most appropriate, and it will free up time for police officers to respond to those calls for which we are best placed to respond, including tackling crime.”

But fears have been raised in other parts of the country that the Right Care, Right Person approach will mean police stop going out to call-outs relating to mental health.

Speaking at the police performance meeting on January 23, Chief Constable Noble said: “It has got a little bit of bad press in terms of some people saying this is police stepping away from victims or people in need, or pushing responsibilities onto other organisations.

“It is absolutely not that approach in Staffordshire. It’s about ensuring, particularly where people have vulnerabilities which could be health or mental ill-health, that we get them in contact with the right agency at the right time.

“On occasions that will still be the police and on occasions we will still be in attendance supporting colleagues. But I think there’s a real consensus now, particularly across justice and health, that the way things are currently being dealt with is not acceptable.

“Very often, having a uniformed presence for someone who is vulnerable and traumatised can make things worse instead of better. And as I’ve said before, I don’t want my police officers and staff spending more time in A&Es than in the homes of people who are being domestically abused or harmed.”

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