Mental health police triage in Dorset hits target of zero in cells

A scheme to cut the number of people with mental health issues in Dorset being taken to police cells has reached its target, the police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said.

The Mental Health Street Triage service has provided support and advice to officers on patrol since June 2014.

July 2015 was the first month where no-one with a mental health problem was taken to a custody suite.

PCC Martyn Underhill said it was "tipping point".

The triage service involves mental health practitioners assisting police officers on patrol in the county on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

'Demeaning and criminalising'

Mental health professionals are also located in police control rooms to advise officers on assessing the mental health of a person.

The service has been aimed at people with learning disabilities, a personality disorder, a history of substance misuse or mental health issues.

Martyn Underhill said taking people experiencing a mental health crisis to a police custody suite was "demeaning, criminalising and completely inappropriate".

He said 41 adults and children in crisis were helped in July, who otherwise may have been taken to a police station.

"We always set the target of zero and to reach that is amazing. Those people have all gone into healthcare settings - that's the appropriate thing to do.

"Twenty percent of police work now is mental health-related, so reducing that demand on resources is obviously another target."

Mr Underhill committed to continued funding for the project and called for street triage to be rolled out across the country.

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