‘Informed and effective’ 24-hour support service reduces Section 136 use

An emergency mental health hotline designed to assist officers has led to an almost 80 per cent reduction in detentions under the Mental Health Act.

Feb 5, 2018

An emergency mental health hotline designed to assist officers has led to an almost 80 per cent reduction in detentions under the Mental Health Act. Launched by Central and North West NHS Trust (CNWL), the 24-hour service will allow Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers working in Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster, to speak with ‘rapid response’ mental health professionals at any time of the day. The Single Point of Access team will either provide over the phone advice or make a referral to the Mental Health Crisis Resolution Team, who can deploy a mental health professional to the scene. If an officer calls from Brent, Hillingdon or Harrow they will also be given mental health advice for the situation they are dealing with. On average, officers in London attend a mental health call every 12 minutes, according to the MPS. Superintendent Mark Lawrence, mental health lead at the MPS, said: “This collaborative approach to policing mental health will enable officers to provide a more informed and effective resolution, and signpost people in mental health crisis to the appropriate service.” A pilot of the scheme launched last year showed that in the first two months, the number of officers imposing a Section 136 dropped by almost 80 per cent. Within three months, the detentions dropped from 138 per month to 29, and in parts of north west London where the service was not piloted, the number of Section 136 orders imposed rose slightly. In August last year, an initiative was launched in partnership with City of London Police, in which an occupational therapist and social worker travel with officers to incidents where there is an immediate threat to life flagged by the emergency control room. The new service is the first in London to allow officers to contact mental health specialists at any time over the phone. Dr John Lowe, a consultant from CNWL, said: “By reaching across traditional boundaries in a supportive and constructive way… Street Triage shows how closer inter-professional working between mental health services and the police can be of huge benefit to users, staff and services. “According to our preliminary data from the project, the use of section 136 has already been reduced across Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster which is great news.”

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