For the first time, agencies across the Warwickshire and West Mercia areas - including PCCs, police forces, the NHS, councils and charities – have formally agreed to work together, to improve mental health care for people in crisis. The final necessary signatures have now been secured for the two areas’ Mental Health Concordat declarations, which set out a framework for agencies to work to, and outlines the sort of help people experiencing mental health crises can expect. The Concordat includes a commitment to work together to improve the system of care and support so people in crisis because of a mental health condition are kept safe and get the support they need - whatever the circumstances, and from whichever service they turn to first. A wide range of other areas are also addressed including improved training for all professionals who come into contact with people experiencing mental health issues, consultation with people who have accessed mental health services to identify areas for improvement, and developing protocols and pathways for children experiencing mental health. It will also look at improving resources to ensure that people are almost always taken to a designated Place of Safety, and are only taken to police stations in exceptional circumstances.
A local Mental Health Governance Board has also been set up to ensure consistent standards are delivered by police across the alliance area, with its inaugural meeting being held today at Hindlip. The meeting will develop and review action plans from each area across Warwickshire and West Mercia which will officially be published in Spring 2015.
Superintendent Stephen Eccleston, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People for Warwickshire and West Mercia Police said
“the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat has now been signed by all partners locally. It represents a commitment by all signatories to work together to improve our response and available services when dealing with people experiencing mental health problems. Everybody who has signed this declaration will work towards developing good practice, raising standards and strengthening partnership arrangements that will ultimately put mental health on a par with physical health.”
The Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia, Barrie Sheldon, said:
“This is a very welcome and a very worthwhile step forward all round. The sort of issue we’ve seen for some time was that – for example - people with mental health issues were being transported in police cars, or taken into police cells, rather than being taken to a proper place of safety. The first priority here is to make sure that in the future, those people with mental health needs are looked after by mental health experts from the outset, rather than the police or any other agencies who just aren’t specialists in that particular field.” “However, this will also help a great deal in freeing up police time, and allowing them to concentrate on the sort of things they should be dealing with.”
Ron Ball, Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire said:
"This is an important milestone, which will have an significant impact on policing in Warwickshire. For too long, the needs of people with a mental health condition have not been adequately met - it is vital that they get the right help at the very start so crises can be prevented."