A scheme which has successfully reduced the number of people with mental health issues inappropriately detained in police custody has been awarded funding for another two years through the Better Care Fund.
Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Groups, in partnership with Wokingham District Council, Newbury District Council and Reading Borough Council, has agreed the funding in recognition of the valuable service provided by Street Triage, which began in 2015.
The service is a partnership between Thames Valley Police and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. It provides dedicated mental health staff to work alongside police officers and is aimed at those incidents reported to the police where an individual appears to be in immediate need of support for their mental health.
Chief Inspector Lindsey Finch, of Thames Valley Police, said: “Police officers and mental health practitioners working together has ensured that people in crisis are signposted to get the right care and attention they need. This has naturally led to a reduction in the number of people suffering from mental health issues being taken into police custody.
“Working in partnership like this gives us the opportunity to recognise when people are ill and require treatment, not necessarily to be criminalised and detained under the mental health act.”
Dr Angus Tallini, lead for mental health in Berkshire West CCGs, said: “Street Triage represents a new era in the emergency services' response to mental health crisis. It is encouraging to see joined up investment across the CCGs and local authorities ensuring this increased mental health expertise at the point of need can continue to be delivered for our communities.”
Theresa Wyles, of Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said “We are delighted that the funding has been approved so we can continue to help people in crisis to get the right help instead of spending time in a cell unnecessarily.
“Street triage has improved the experience and outcomes for people in crisis. It enables both organisations to quickly assess a situation to ensure the appropriate care pathway is identified and also reduces the burden of inappropriate referrals to emergency departments.
“We look forward to continue working with Thames Valley Police, improving training, awareness, confidence and joint working, resulting in a better outcome for people suffering with mental health issues in Berkshire West.”