Street triage mental health scheme launches in West Midlands

Police and paramedics work to ensure appropriate care levels.  

West Midlands Police launches a new partnership pilot tomorrow to ensure people with mental health issues are kept out of police custody and receive the right treatment and care.

The force is one of a number to be selected by the Department of Health to pilot the ‘street triage’ scheme, which sees mental health nurses and paramedics accompany police officers to incidents where it’s believed people need immediate mental health support. 

A dedicated car will be operating everyday throughout the Birmingham and Solihull area from Friday 10th January and will involve police officers, nurses and paramedics working together. It will aim to ensure people who need mental health care get the right support and at the same time reduce demand on the emergency services.

The pilot follows in the footsteps of other schemes that have taken place elsewhere in the country and have already shown that it can help to keep people out of custodial settings and reduce the demands on valuable police time. Chief Inspector Sean Russell, from West Midlands Police, said: “In emergency situations we want to make sure that people with mental health problems are correctly assessed, cared for and treated as quickly as possible.

“Officers are already trained to deal with these kinds but this additional support from health professionals will help officers to treat vulnerable people in emergencies. In the West Midlands we are being supported by both the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and the Ambulance Service who can help our officers to assess people in times of crisis. By having partners on hand we will also be able to reduce demand on valuable police and A&E resources and be able to provide a more effective service to the people of the West Midlands.”

John Short, Chief Executive at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are looking forward to working more closely with our police and ambulance service colleagues to ensure that people in urgent need of mental health care receive the most appropriate support. This pilot will not only support people in crisis, but it will also help to further strengthen our relationship with West Midlands Police and West Midlands Ambulance Service for the benefit of our local population.”

Dr Andy Carson, West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Medical Director said: “This is a fantastic and exciting opportunity for the Trust to work alongside partners to ensure the highest quality of care is delivered to some of the most vulnerable people from within our community. We welcome this opportunity and firmly believe this will ensure mental health provision will be amongst the best in the country.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones, added: “West Midlands Police, the mental health trusts and West Midlands Ambulance Service have been at the forefront of improved care for people with mental health needs. We pioneered the use of places of safety outside police stations, which ensures much better care for people facing a mental health crisis. We have piloted embedding a mental health nurse in a police custody suite, which we hope to carry forward into our new larger custody blocks, as it is potentially a much better way to assess the mental health needs of people entering the criminal justice system.

“This new project, which sees the three working together again to assess and support people with mental health needs while reducing the need for admission, is another excellent example of how the public sector can work together to better protect the most vulnerable in society.”

A conference to support the national development of place of safety and the street triage scheme is taking place in Birmingham on 23rd January. The conference, being held at the Tally Ho Conference Centre from 9.30am to 3pm will discuss how the place of safety was established and the process for developing street triage.