Co-design, co-evaluation and co-learning: street triage, mental health and policing in North Yorkshire

Researchers: Dr Martin Webber and Annie Irvine

Funder: N8/ESRC Research Programme: Realising the Potential of Co-production

Duration: February 2015 to July 2015

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:

  • secondary analysis of quantitative data routinely gathered by NYP, TEWV and other relevant agencies including the Mental Health Act Office and Accident & Emergency Departments
  • qualitative research with front-line personnel from the police and mental health services (focus groups and individual interviews)

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:

  • What makes co-production effective?
  • What are the benefits and barriers to co-production?
  • How can quality and rigour be assured in co-produced research?
  • Are there differences in perception between academics and non-academics as to what constitutes effective co-production?
  • What is required to facilitate effective co-production?

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.

Policy and practice aims

The project has two parallel sets of aims:

  • To produce a mixed-methods research evaluation for North Yorkshire Police and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust on the delivery and outcomes of their Street Triage pilot
  • To provide the N8 consortium with learning about the process, barriers and benefits to co-production and how co-production can be most effective.

For further information about Street Triage in North Yorkshire:

http://www.tewv.nhs.uk/Our-services1/Trustwide-services/Street-triage/

If you require further information about the project, please contact Martin Webber.