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Police mental health detentions fall thanks to mental health nurses

An innovative partnership approach to improving care for people with mental health problems in Norfolk is also helping relieve pressure on the police.

Last year Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Norfolk Constabulary introduced mental health nurses in the police control room to ensure mental health patients receive appropriate advice.

Figures show that since 28 October 2014, a total of 22 Section 136 detentions by the police in Norfolk have been prevented as a result of the control room initiative.

Under the Mental Health Act, a section 136 detention involves the police detaining someone who is deemed to have a mental health need and requires immediate care or control.

The success of the scheme has seen senior mental health nurse Terri Cooper-Barnes and Chief Inspector Amanda Ellis share expertise at a conference in London last month.

Such has been the success of the Norfolk pilot scheme launched in March; it was expanded in October thanks to extra funding from Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the Home Office.

Terri Cooper-Barnes said: "We are making a real difference. Since I have been in the role we have seen a drop in the number of Section 136 detentions, which is when police officers detain someone who's considered to have mental health needs and requires immediate care or control. They would then be taken to a place of safety in order for an assessment to be carried out."

The team of nurses have immediate access to health records and by using their expertise in mental health care, can make on-the-spot professional assessments and decisions, which could involve arranging alternative options rather than the attendance of a police officer.

Chief Inspector Amanda Ellis added: "We have started to see a broad range of benefits for people with mental illnesses and for both the Constabulary and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust as a result of the integrated mental health team in the police control room."

Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett welcomed the results and said: "The initiative is proving to be an excellent partnership with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust where we are ensuring mental health patients are receiving specialist support and advice from the initial point of contact with the emergency services."‚Äč