The number of people taken to Sussex Police cells during a mental health crisis have reduced by 80 per cent in the last year.
In 2015/16 in Sussex just 151 adults were taken to custody as a place of safety after being detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act. This is compared to 765 adults in 2014/15.
No children or young people aged under 18 years were taken to police custody following detention under s136 mental health act during 2015/2016. 45 children and young people were detained during this time but were cared for at the hospital places of safety.
The data has been released by the National Police Chiefs' Council who have seen a reduction in the use of police cells across all forces.
For three years Sussex Police has been working with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust operating street triage teams, which started in Eastbourne, and has expanded across East and West Sussex. This scheme sees a specially allocated police officer and a specialist mental health nurse responding to incidents where a mental health intervention is needed. It has been an enormous success meaning less people have been detained under s136 and those that have are far more likely to be taken to a hospital place of safety.
In August it was announced by the Home Office that more than £630,000 will be awarded to mental health services in Sussex helping more facilities to be provided.
The money will fund a new crisis suite for adults, children and young people at Millview Hospital in Hove, three new facilities will be established to manage urgent mental health care in hospitals in Eastbourne, Hastings and Crawley.
Facilities will be improved in West Sussex including a street triage vehicle, and a new place of safety for children and young people in Chichester, a new crisis cafe in Bognor Regis and refurbishments to two A&E departments at Worthing General Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester to deliver improved mental health support suites within a more appropriate setting.
Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly said, “People suffering a mental health crisis are not criminals and a police cell is never a suitable place for them. We have understood this for a number of years and have been working hard with our partners at the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT) to help those in crisis gain the most suitable support. These figures show that even in the last year we have, with our partners, made enormous strides forward and with this extra funding to SPFT from the Home Office we can continue to make these improvements.”
Colm Donaghy, Chief Executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust added, “This is a great example of the police and NHS working together to make sure people with mental health problems receive the right care in the right place. It’s all about partnership and looking beyond traditional organisational barriers to think about what’s in the best interests of the local communities we serve.”