31 July 2020

A partnership mental health hub that provides police and NHS help for the public and officers has been praised after a successful first year that included avoiding more than 1,500 detentions.

Trust mental health professionals work alongside Bedfordshire Police colleagues in response to people experiencing a mental health crisis.

The hub was launched last summer and acts as a central connection point for existing and new mental health services provided as part of the partnership.

It provides faster and more effective access to the range of specialist mental health support available inside and outside the force.

“The hub is making a tremendous difference in how our organisations connect, improving efficiency and - most important of all – is providing the right help at the right time for people who need mental health support,” said Liz Munday, ELFT’s Interim Assistant Director for the Crisis Pathway in Bedfordshire and Luton.

Chief Inspector Mo Aziz, Bedfordshire Police's lead for mental health, said: “We now have a tried and tested model of a truly integrated response, with proven results in early detection, prevention of mental health crisis, reduction in use of police time when dealing with mental health related incidents, and improving the overall experience for service users.

“The increase in recording of crime data involving mental health will also allow us to build a more accurate picture of the issue in our county as we take this fantastic initiative forward into year two.”

The hub is based within the Signpost Hub, which provides public and victim support services at police headquarters in Kempston.

The hub connects a range of services including: 

  • Mental Health Nurse in the Force Control Centre (FCC) with the ability to deal directly with callers who are experiencing mental health crisis, support with tactical advice regarding mental health related incidents, provide coaching and guidance to FCC call handlers in the management of mental health related calls.
  • Mental health awareness training to Signpost Hub, FCC colleagues and other police colleagues.
  • The SIM (Serenity Integrated Mentoring) Project Team. A mental health lead nurse and police officer work together to provide support for people with complex mental health needs.
  • Police Investigator role, providing a dedicated police officer to work alongside in-patient and community mental health services to address criminal behaviour in mental health settings.

    The new roles within the hub also complement the existing countywide Mental Health Street Triage Team and the Liaison and Diversion Service.

    Achievements over the last year include:
  • Nearly 1,500 calls to the Force Control Room (FCC) were handled with mental health nurse support
  • 180 detentions under s136 of the Mental Health Act were prevented by the FCC mental health nurse and Signpost Hub
  • 443 police deployments were avoided by the FCC mental health nurse and Signpost Hub
  • FCC nurses provided nearly 100 training sessions to FCC colleagues, Signpost Hub and wider police colleagues to promote increased understanding of mental health
  • The SIM team has supported five high intensity service users to improve their mental health and reduce their high use of, and contact with, emergency services. Support for one service user has also resulted in in savings of £20,000 in emergency service contact and support over two months
  • Recording of offences within mental health inpatient settings has increased by 45% because of confidence in the Police Investigator role – while offences have reduced by 50% during the same period
  • Mental Health Street Triage Team successfully avoided the need for A&E attendance or detention under s136 of the Mental Health Act on 1,557 occasions
  • The Liaison & Diversion Service (L&DS) received 2,381 referrals for adults and 66 referrals for children and young people who attend police custody outside of the Youth Offending Service operating hours
  • L&DS received a national Howard League Award for developing a female offender pathway and received additional funding to support psychological interventions for women as a part of a custodial sentence or suspended sentence order, with a view to reducing the need for short term custodial sentences

The project has been funded by the police, ELFT and the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway.