The need for face to face assessments

untitled (211)Police forces and other public services across the nation are all working intensively to find ways of meeting the needs of the communities they are intended to serve, in the most efficient manner. The pressure to save more money following several years of austerity cuts is well known. It is inevitable that at the margins and occasionally at the heart of these activities that the changes being introduced now by one set of managers could undermine the impact of previous decisions and lead to false economies and tasks that will need to be repeated, after an efficient approach has gone wrong. I am no expert when it comes to matters of mental wellbeing despite recognising in myself and close members of my family that all of us have differing degrees of mental health. However my work as a volunteer Street Pastor on the Streets of Brighton has convinced me of the value of what is known as Street Triage where Police Officers have access to mental health practitioners while they are attending to incidents with people who they suspect may have a mental health condition. These triage experiments in Sussex which were first being discussed in 2011 when I was preparing my candidacy as Police and Crime Commissioner have dramatically reduced the numbers of people who end up in custody suites primarily as a result of such conditions. There have been significant cost savings as the criminal justice service is not the best way of dealing with people with mental health conditions. It seems tragic that for reasons that this article does not make clear, that Kent Police are now blowing the whistle on this activity and merely offering their Police Officers a telephone helpline when they are faced with people exhibiting apparent symptoms of mental health conditions. It is notoriously difficult to make such a diagnosis and a Police Officer faced with the decision to arrest an individual or attempt to describe behaviour in order to get a diagnosis over their mobile phone is surely being put in a very difficult position. The reason why Kent citizens should be concerned is that locking up people who are unwell is bad for the person concerned and it is an expensive and ineffective way of addressing mental health conditions.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Police & Crime Commissioner, Policing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The need for face to face assessments

  1. Daniel Pritchard says:

    Good piece Ian,

    My daughter, Jemima has been working in the field in Hastings and Eastbourne until recently… Working mainly in custody units. She has been taken off front line now as she is expecting her first child. It is such an important area and I am disappointed to see Kent’s reaction.

    These days I work as a chaplain to the Norfolk Police, who also offer a similar system, not just at street level but in the county control room… I’m all for it!



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