Such has been the success of having a specialist nurse in its control room, Norfolk Police will be expanding the service thanks to extra funding from the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the Home Office.
Three additional nurses from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust have joined the control room to allow cover seven days a week to respond to calls ensuring mental health patients receive appropriate advice when they initially contact the police.
Stephen Bett, PCC for Norfolk, said: “The pilot scheme showed that we needed further support, so that is why we have put funding in place and decided to appoint further mental health specialists.”
Terri Cooper-Barnes, a senior mental health nurse at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, joined the Contact and Control Room in March as part of the pilot scheme, said: “Since I have been in the role we have seen a 30 per cent drop in the number of Section 136s, which is when police officers detain someone who’s considered to have mental health needs and requires immediate care or control. They would then be taken to a place of safety in order for an assessment to be carried out”.
The team of nurses have immediate access to health records and by using their expertise in mental health care, can make on-the-spot professional assessments and decisions, which could involve arranging alternative options rather than the attendance of a police officer.
Stephen Bett added: “With a pressing need to offer expertise and support to mental health patients, having additional nurses will also mean our officers will have more time to look after other policing issues in Norfolk.”
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “I’m delighted additional funding has been secured and have no doubt this will have a positive impact and build on the good work already achieved during the pilot. This allows us to provide a more appropriate service for those who contact the police needing support from mental health professionals whilst reducing demand on police resources”.
Michael Scott, Chief Executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, said: “Having visited the control room myself and seen the scheme in operation, I have seen how valuable this collaboration is and am delighted that by working effectively together, we are showing how committed we are to making the pledges laid out in the Mental Health Concordat a reality.
“The addition of three more mental health nurses from our Trust will help ensure even more vulnerable callers who call the police receive a timely assessment of their mental health needs and are directed to the appropriate services.”
Today’s news supports World Mental Health Day, Friday 10 October, which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts in support of mental health.