Home Secretary Suella Braverman has written to Cambridgeshire’s Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner outlining the Government’s plans to reduce the amount of time officers spend on mental health cases and vulnerable people.
Ms Braverman said she and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wanted to see more bobbies on the beat but accepted that officers dealing with non-police demands had less time to investigate and prevent crime.
She said the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was investing £150 million to improve its mental health crisis care response and shift the burden away from the police service.
This includes £7 million on specialised mental health ambulances, with the remaining £143 million for new, or to improve existing, mental health crisis response infrastructure.
The funding will provide more than 30 schemes for crisis cafes, crisis houses and other similar safe spaces as well as more than 20 new or improved health-based places of safety.
Ms Braverman said: “In many situations it is important that police have swift access to refer individuals into professional mental health care.
“I am aware of different models, such as street triage and co-location of professionals, that are in place across the country and can support this.
“I therefore welcome the commitment by DHSC to develop the right triage methods that will help remove police involvement earlier in the process of responding to mental health incidents.
“People in mental health crisis need to be seen by healthcare professionals to get the appropriate assessment or treatment in the right environment.”
The Home Secretary said the DHSC, Home Office, National Health Service England and the National Police Chiefs’ Council were developing a National Partnership Agreement based on the ‘Right Care, Right Person’ model which operates in Humberside and hoped to deliver by the end of next month.
She said they were also working on a toolkit containing a range of products to help police forces implement the ‘Right Care, Right Person’ approach, which they anticipate being ready by June 2023.
“Once the National Partnership Agreement has been finalised, I encourage forces to work closely with local health partners to identify how to implement the model safely and effectively in your area,” said Ms Braverman.
Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom welcomed the Government’s intervention.
She said: “The situation has been building for several years now and has clearly reached breaking point.
“A police officer sitting with a vulnerable patient in a hospital is a very poor use of limited resources and has an inevitable knock-on effect throughout the whole organisation, with a backlog of work building up and priorities needing to be re-assessed.
“Our members are already overstretched but are still expected to take on more and more responsibilities from other agencies, particularly when it comes to mental health and vulnerable people.
“We hope things are about to change now that this issue has been recognised at Government level.”