Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

MEN­TAL health ex­perts will be drafted into North Wales Po­lice’s con­trol room to help iden­tify peo­ple in cri­sis and in need of spe­cial­ist help.

A triage team will be on hand to help of­fi­cers for up to 16 hours a day to help them make de­ci­sions on how to re­spond to peo­ple suf­fer­ing from a men­tal health cri­sis.

News of the move comes af­ter a re­port high­lighted that forces across the UK were hav­ing to deal with men­tal health-re­lated is­sues but that of­fi­cers did not al­ways have the skills or ex­per­tise.

And the re­port, by Her Majesty’s In­spec­torate of Con­stab­u­lary and Fire and Res­cue Ser­vices (HMICFRS), found that only 0.4% of in­ci­dents recorded by North Wales Po­lice were flagged or marked to iden­tify men­tal health con­cerns in the 12 months to June 30, 2017.

The fig­ure was the low­est from all po­lice forces who pro­vided data to HMICFRS.

But the ‘Pick­ing Up The Pieces’ re­port makes clear that its in­spec­tors are con­cerned that po­lice are fill­ing the gaps left by other ‘bro­ken’ ser­vices.

It said: “We have grave con­cerns about whether the po­lice should be in­volved in re­spond­ing to men­tal health prob­lems to the de­gree they are. Our in­spec­tion found that, in deal­ing with peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems, po­lice of­fi­cers and staff must do com­plex and high-risk work. They of­ten don’t have the skills they need to sup­port peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems. All this can take a heavy emo­tional toll.”

The re­port gave a num­ber of rec­om­men­da­tions, in­clud­ing forces as­sess­ing how much de­mand men­tal health is putting on them, and re­view­ing the train­ing given to ● staff.

North Wales Po­lice is in the process of bring­ing in train­ing so of­fi­cers can un­der­stand what ac­tion to take, ac­cord­ing to the HMICFRS re­port.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Gareth Evans said: “We recog­nise the find­ings to­day that peo­ple suf­fer­ing a men­tal health cri­sis need to be cared for by men­tal health ex­perts in a health care set­ting, not the po­lice, and this is also recog­nised by our part­ners across North Wales.

“This ap­proach has de­vel­oped multi-agency meet­ings across North Wales where in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing in the com­mu­nity and seek­ing help, or who are start­ing to show symp­toms of a cri­sis, can be helped much ear­lier.

“We have also greatly im­proved our com­mu­ni­ca­tion with men­tal health ser­vices prior to any ar­rest un­der the Men­tal Health Act and im­proved the han­dover process to our col­leagues in the health board so that peo­ple are bet­ter cared for.”

North Wales Po­lice and the Betsi Cad­wal­adr Univer­sity Health Board (BCUHB) have se­cured Welsh Govern­ment fund­ing to em­bed a men­tal health triage unit in the force con­trol room to pro­vide ex­pert ad­vice to of­fi­cers 16 hours per day. The Welsh Am­bu­lance Ser­vice al­ready work in the con­trol room and help co­or­di­nate the re­sponse to in­di­vid­u­als re­quir­ing emer­gency in­ter­ven­tion.

There will also be a train­ing pack­age for front­line of­fi­cers and a plan to es­tab­lish cri­sis re­source cen­tres where peo­ple in cri­sis can seek help and re­as­sur­ance.

“This ap­proach, fo­cussing on preven­tion, cri­sis care and ed­u­ca­tion should see sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to the sit­u­a­tion de­scribed by the HMICFRS to­day and I would like to ac­knowl­edge the work of all part­ners so far,” said Supt Evans.

Po­lice will get help in deal­ing with peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues

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