Mental health and criminal justice systems frequently overlap. There are estimates that up to 20 per cent of police time is spent working with people with mental health problems. However, police officers rarely have specialist mental health knowledge and there are concerns that the police powers under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act - which allow an officer to remove an individual who appears to ‘suffering from mental disorder and to be in immediate need of care or control’ from a public place to a ‘place of safety’ - are being over-used.
‘Street Triage’ involves mental health practitioners providing support to front-line police officers in incidents where an individual appears to be in immediate need of mental health support. Successful Street Triage should result in better assessment of situations, more effective use of police resources and quicker access to appropriate mental health support for individuals in crisis.
The Department of Health (backed by the Home Office) has funded nine Street Triage pilots across England, including one in North Yorkshire. These pilots aim to reduce the use of Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and to improve the speed and effectiveness of support provided to individuals in mental health crisis.
Dr Martin Webber and Annie Irvine are working in partnership with North Yorkshire Police (NYP) and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) to conduct a mixed-methods evaluation of their Street Triage scheme. The evaluation will include:
The research is funded by the N8/ESRC Research Programme on Co-production. Co-production can be understood as ‘closer working between academics and research users’. Alongside providing evidence to the NYP/TEWV pilot, the project has a parallel aim to gather learning on the process of co-produced research. Research questions include:
The evaluation will be co-produced through collaborative working on all aspects from defining the parameters of the study and refining the research questions, to carrying out data collection and analysis and delivering findings to stakeholders. An innovative element to the study is the completion of ‘reflective diaries’ by all partners. These diaries will be used to record individual reflections on the process and experience of taking part in a co-produced research project, and will be shared openly at a final reflective learning event.
The project has two parallel sets of aims:
For further information about Street Triage in North Yorkshire:
If you require further information about the project, please contact Martin Webber.