New figures show Northumbria Police continue to lead the way in safeguarding vulnerable people in mental health crisis.
On Friday the Home Office released figures on the number of individuals detained by police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
The power is used by police to take individuals who are in a mental health crisis to a place of safety in ‘high risk’ incidents.
Nationally it showed that police forces across the UK were using the power more often, with a 12 per cent increase in detentions.
However, officers in Northumbria have bucked the trend and in the last year have seen a 10 per cent reduction in its use.
The fall has been attributed to the nationally acclaimed work of the Force’s Street Triage Team who were set up in 2014.
When response officers are called to an incident where an individual is in crisis, they can call the team for support.
Officers from the Street Triage will attend alongside qualified mental health nurses so that individuals can get the support they need, and avoid being taken into police custody.
In a national independent review of the Mental Health Act carried out last year, the team were singled out as an example of good practice.
And Superintendent Lyn Peart has today (Friday) welcomed the new figures and said it underlined Northumbria Police’s commitment to supporting vulnerable people.
She said: “We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable people and have been nationally recognised for the way we respond to those people who are in a mental health crisis.
“Our Street Triage Team was set up to prevent vulnerable people from being detained unnecessarily and that model has been adopted by forces across the country.
“The team have been recognised with national awards for safeguard these individuals and that is something we are very proud of.
“The low figures are particularly impressive when you consider that the number of mental health incidents we have had to respond to have increased by a third since 2014.
“However, Section 136 is still an important policing power and there will still be circumstances when we are left with no choice but to use it.
“We will continue to work with service users, charities and our partners to safeguard vulnerable people in crisis and get them the support they need.”
The Force has also been praised for working with the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) to produce the ‘RESPOND’ training package.
The multi-agency training package uses those individuals who have been in mental health crisis to speak about their own experiences.
It is delivered to all officers in the Force so that they have a better understanding of what vulnerable individuals may be going through.
The training has also won national awards and has been rolled out to police forces across the UK.