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Commissioner commits to supporting those suffering mental ill health

Merseyside / June 18

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has today renewed her commitment to supporting people suffering mental health crisis by signing up to a national Concordat.

The Department of Health’s Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat commits criminal justice agencies, such as the Police and Crime Commissioner and Merseyside Police, and health organisations, like Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS England, to work more closely together to develop strategies to improve the care and support for people with mental health concerns.

The national initiative aims to reduce the number of people detained inappropriately in police cells and drive up standards of care for people experiencing a crisis. It is also designed to ensure beds are always available for people who need them urgently and that police cells are not used because mental health services are unavailable.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy and Merseyside Police already have strong links with regional CCGs and other health partners. Today, they made a further public commitment to continuing to improve this level of care by signing the Concordat.

Jane said: “It is vital that individuals suffering a mental health crisis get the right support and care, at the right time and in the right place.

“It's simply unacceptable that there are incidents where vulnerable people and even young people end up in a police cell because the right mental health service isn't available to them.

“Here on Merseyside it is extremely rare that anyone who appears to be suffering from a mental illness is ever detained in a police cell. That is thanks to the great partnership work Merseyside Police has developed with its health partners.

“But the Force and I know there is always more that can be done and that is why we are signing this agreement today to ensure those with mental health problems receive the emergency care they need.

“Partnership working is essential if we are to improve the care of people in mental health crisis. All agencies have a duty to the public to share the responsibility for tackling mental health issues and that is why this Concordat, developed with the help of Police and Crime Commissioners, is so important.”

As Chair of the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board, the Commissioner already works with health and criminal justice partners to reduce crime and re-offending and focus on the needs of victims and witnesses. This includes looking at how the response to people with mental health issues can be improved.

The Concordat was also signed by Merseyside Police’s Detective Superintendent Tim Keelan, who heads up the department for the protection of vulnerable people, and the Force’s dedicated Mental Health Liaison Officer Hayley Sherwen.

Tim said: “Merseyside Police recognise that it is vital that we work in partnership with mental health trusts, acute trusts and others across Merseyside to making things better for people in mental ill health and crisis.”

Merseyside Police has already been involved in a number of innovative mental health initiatives. This includes:

  • Working with Mersey Care NHS Trust to develop a more timely and effective process for addressing the needs of people with mental health issues. This initiative ensures anyone believed to have mental health issues is taken to trained healthcare professionals in A&E departments, so an assessment can be carried out in a safe and secure environment, while allowing officers more time to carry out their duties on the streets.
  • Participating in a £25m pilot scheme which sees mental health nurses based in custody suites and courts. The Criminal Justice Mental Health Liaison Team help officers respond to calls and can provide assessments to identify those with problems in order to cut reoffending.
  • Having a dedicated mental health liaison officer who works closely with healthcare professionals and provides advice and guidance to officers.

This September, Merseyside Police’s Public Protection Unit will also chair a Concordat Working Group as a sub-group of Merseyside’s Criminal Justice Board. This group will bring together representatives from the Commissioner’s office, CCGs across Merseyside and other partners to ensure the aims of the Concordat are delivered.