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Right Care, Right Person going national

by Mark Rowe

An agreement on police to leave mental health cases with appropriate healthcare, as a way of addressing ‘pressures that mental health issues are placing on policing’, is expected by the end of March 2023. That’s come out from an open letter by Home Secretary Suella Braverman to police and crime commissioners (PCCs) and chief constables.

The Home Office Policing Minister Chris Philp met in December with the Department for Health Minister for Mental Health, Maria Caulfield, senior police and health managers, Ms Braverman wrote, adding ‘there was consensus to work together to develop a National Partnership Agreement incorporating the principles of the Right Care, Right Person operating model followed in Humberside’.

The Humberside force’s work to take police out of tasks that were more appropriately for medics to handle – against some resistance from healthcare locals – as part of the force’s efforts to improve its service was featured in the January print edition of Professional Security Magazine.

Ms Braverman wrote that the College of Policing, and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) are working on a ‘smarter practice product’ that is a detailed case study of Humberside’s application of the Right Care, Right Person Model, which they are on track to deliver by the end of March. “They are also working on a toolkit that will contain a range of products to assist forces in the implementation of the Right Care, Right Person approach, which they anticipate being ready by June 2023. DHSC will also work with NHS England to ensure that appropriate guidance for Integrated Care Board and Mental Health Trusts is developed by the end of July 2023. Once the National Partnership Agreement has been finalised, I encourage forces to work closely with local health partners to identify how to implement the model safely and effectively in your area.”

She summed up that ‘the Home Office and DHSC [Department for Health and Social Care] are committed to working together to ensure that the appropriate health and social care is available to respond to those in crisis and that the police will play their part in mental health incidents when it is appropriate to do so’.

APCC comment

At the APCC (Association for PCCs), Lead for Mental Health and PCC for Surrey, Lisa Townsend, said: “Police officers across the country are increasingly becoming the first port of call when someone is suffering mental health crisis when what they really need is proper medical intervention and support from health care professionals.

“This all too often results in our already over-stretched police officers, who are doing their best to keep our communities safe, being diverted away from their core duties.

“At a time when demand for our policing service has never been higher, we should not be putting even more pressure on our police officers by asking them to act as mental health practitioners in often difficult situations.

“This is a crucial issue for policing and a longer-term solution has been desperately needed for some time. Having met with the Policing Minister to raise PCCs’ concerns, I welcome the government’s commitment to work with policing and health to improve the situation and agree this new national partnership.

“We know this issue cannot be resolved overnight but hopefully this is a big step in the right direction. I and my PCC colleagues will work tirelessly alongside police chiefs and local health partners to help realise this much needed change in direction, helping policing get back to its core duties and ensuring vulnerable people get the appropriate help and care they deserve.”

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