Nurses to join bobbies on the beat

Sussex Police patrols are to team up with mental health nurses.

Following an announcement earlier this week that mental health nurses are to join police on the beat, Sussex Deputy Chief Constable Giles York said he was ‘delighted’ the force was one of those selected to take part in a pilot project.

“We are really keen to work with the community and our partners to ensure we are providing appropriate care to people who are suffering from mental health issues and are clearly in need of some immediate care,” he said.

“Often police are called at a time when people are at a point of crisis when other support is not immediately available. Whilst our custody centres have been modernised over the years and are designed so that we can appropriately look after people, we agree that they are not necessarily the best place for someone who is suffering from a mental health issue. We have therefore been working with closely with health partners for some time to try to ensure there is alternative appropriate provision in a healthcare environment where we can take people to ensure they get the help and support they need.

“This pilot is a positive step in this direction. We will now be discussing with the Department of Health and the Sussex NHS partnership Trust, who will provide the clinical expertise and staff for the project, planning for exactly how, where and when it will start. Our overriding objective is to achieve the best possible outcome for individuals and the community”

Katy Bourne, sussex police and crime commissioner, said: “We have a high number of detainees in Sussex who have mental health issues and it is of concern to me, as PCC, that it should not simply be down to the police to deal with this. I welcome the fact that the Sussex NHS Partnership recognise this and are keen to share the responsibility with the police.

“I am pleased that the Department of Health has chosen Sussex to be a part of this programme which demonstrates that the health services and the police take these responsibilities seriously.

“I look forward to seeing the results of this pilot and ensuring those with mental health issues get the very best attention they require, alleviating the strain currently put on police officers.”

Health bosses also welcomed the move as being able to provide those in need with on-the-spot help.

“We have a great record of joint working with Sussex Police to provide places of safety for people who need to be detained under the Mental Health Act. We have built five places of safety linked to our hospitals, and in doing so we have reduced the numbers of people with mental health problems who end up in custody,” said Lisa Rodrigues, chief executive of the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

“This wonderful scheme goes a step further. By putting mental health nurses on the beat with police officers we will provide people with help where and when they need it. This is a fantastic opportunity to put our ideas into practice.”