In December 2018 our response officers were joined by BBC cameras as they went on shift with mental health practitioners from the East London NHS Foundation Trust as part of our mental health street triage initiative.

Sgt Mark Montgomery started the initiative following his own battle with mental health to make it easier for people with mental health issues, who come to the attention of the police, to get the help they needed, rather than be detained.

Before the initiative the only option our officers really had when dealing with a person with mental health issues was to detain them under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. A detention of this type took up a lot of police time and prevented officers from getting back on the street to deal with other incidents and crimes.

The mental health triage team is made up of two officers and one mental health practitioner who attend any and every sort of call in their response vehicle when on shift. When instances arise when a person clearly has a mental health condition or is having a mental health crisis, the mental health practitioner can take the lead and ensure they are getting expert help while our officers can ensure the safety of all parties involved.

148 Section 136’s have been avoided*

*between May 2017 – October 2018

£15,000 savings of police time*

*between May 2017 – October 2018

The initiative was originally running on a 3 month pilot but due to its success, has been extended.

The most recent statistics, which show the results of the initiative since its inception in May 2017 until the end of October 2018, reveal the triage team have led to 148 Section 136’s being avoided, saving nearly £15,000 of police time.

The success of the initiative has seen it become the focus of an episode of BBC’s Inside Out and has also led to the team from the East London NHS Foundation Trust receiving the “Team of the Year Award” at their local awards ceremony.

The initiative not only provides better help and support to those suffering from mental health issues, but also demonstrates the very valuable collaboration between the police and the NHS, exemplifying how services can work together.