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PCC commits to freeing up police officer time with mental health specialists in control room

17 May 2024

The Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, has introduced a Mental Health Deployment Coordinator role to make sure callers experiencing a mental health crisis get the right support.

The new position will ensure vulnerable people who call the police are professionally assessed by a specialist working in the control room to identify the right agency to support the person.

For a long time, police have attended to people in a mental health crisis which has taken them away from front line duties. The new position, which is funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, is being piloted in collaboration with South Central Ambulance Service with the aim to reduce the demand on policing by freeing up officer hours to ensure fighting crime and building safer communities can remain the police’s core focus.

The introduction of the role coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week which runs from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2024.

PCC Donna Jones said: “The rise in the number of calls coming in that are related to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis is growing every year. That’s putting a lot of pressure on police resources and police time.

“A trained mental health coordinator working in the control room will triage calls swiftly to identify the right agency to support the person in need thereby allowing more police time to be available to respond to the crimes.

“The police are seldom the appropriate first agency to respond to those suffering mental health episodes. My ambition is to free up police time, increasing their ability to respond to crimes whilst ensuring those in need receive compassionate support from health professionals.”

The post supports the Right Care Right Person (RCRP) initiative that was introduced in July 2023 as part of a national partnership agreement rolled out across England and Wales. The approach involving the local NHS, ambulance trusts and local authorities is predicted to save around one million police officer hours nationally each year.

PCC Donna Jones added: “As Police Commissioner, it’s my job to oversee and support the delivery of the Right Care Right Person initiative in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. This mental health deployment role is a vital step in providing that correct care by being a vital link to coordinate the responses of police, ambulance and mental health services.”

The effectiveness of the role will be tracked to determine the impact on freeing up police time and officer hours.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Bartolomeo of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary said: “We really welcome this new role. It continues our 11 year journey of removing police officers from routine crisis care, and not over-policing vulnerable people. The role represents continued close partnership working with our colleagues in Health as we deliver on these shared goals.”