The Home Office and Department of Health visited Lincolnshire on Thursday to look at a new partnership between the police and NHS to help people with mental health problems.
Since the new assessment unit at the Peter Hodgkinson Centre opened in October, 230 people found by the police who appeared to be suffering from mental health problems have been taken to the unit rather than into police custody.
At the unit individuals are assessed by a doctor and mental health care professional who determine the next course of action. Since its opening, detention times have more than halved.
The unit is the only facility of its kind in the county and forms part of a joint venture between Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lincolnshire Police.
Trust general manager for adult services, Mary Quint, said: “The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommend that every mental health in-patient service has a section 136 suite.”
“It is important that people assessed under section 136 are received in a suitable environment, and seen by approved mental health professionals. The suite at our acute unit is a more appropriate place than the police station.”
People are assessed between two to four hours and are either sent home or admitted to a ward at the centre.
Police superintendent, David Lynch, said the facility is ‘far better’ for the welfare of the detainee.
“It has also contributed towards freeing up police resources, facilities and police officer time,” he said.
“It’s important that people suffering with mental health issues get the support they need from trained health professionals as soon as possible so the facility is a far better alternative to being held in a police cell.”
National policing lead for custody, assistant chief constable Dawn Copley, added: “If someone is suffering from mental ill-health, the best people to deal with them are specially trained medical practitioners, not police officers.”
“The best place for them to be treated is medical premises, not police stations.”