Triage car could cut suicide rates

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A mental health triage car could cut the number of suicides in Bedfordshire.

That’s the hope of Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins who has awarded funding of £137,500 from his Community Safety Fund for the car.

The money will help to cover its costs for a 12-month period.

“This is a much-needed partnership project designed to ensure that people in mental health crisis receive on the spot treatment from a trained professional at the earliest opportunity.

“The police are not medical experts, but often they are called on for help - now they will have an expert beside them who can provide that help.” the Commissioner said.

“Timely use of this dedicated triage team will improve the services for mental health patients and also mean that far fewer are detained in police custody as a place of temporary safety or taken to hospitals’ A & E departments.”

The scheme is also expected to reduce the number of police detentions under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and lead to fewer repeat calls to Force Control Room from people in mental health crisis.

Fewer suicides and attempted suicides are also expected, and less reoffending where mental health conditions lead to crimes being committed.

Mr Martins’ funding will help to pay the costs of a team of three mental health nurses, three paramedics, three police constables and one police sergeant who will work together from April to cover seven days per week from 3pm to 1am, typically the period of highest demand.

There is currently an on-going IPCC investigation after Leon Briggs, who was detained under the Mental Health Act, died in police custody at Luton.