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Thames Valley sees 72% drop in the number of people held in police custody under the Mental Health Act

| May 16, 2016

In the year from Tuesday 5th May 2015 to Wednesday 4th May 2016 there has been a 72% drop in the number of people being detained in custody by Thames Valley Police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

In the time period only 24 people were held in police custody out of the 1,095 people detained under the power.

Assistant Chief Constable, Nikki Ross, who is the mental health lead for TVP said: ‘I am very encouraged by these figures.  TVP recognised that putting people who have been detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act into police custody was not in most cases appropriate.  People need to be in supportive surroundings where they are able to receive the specialist help they need.

We have taken action to change how we deal with these incidents. Every front line officer in the Force now receives mental health training and our Street Triage schemes operate in eight Local Policing Areas (LPAs) where police officers work side-by-side with mental health professionals to find the best outcome.

As part of Mental Health Awareness week, running from 16 to 22 May, we will be raising awareness of mental health by publicising the work that goes on every day across the Force by staff, officers and our partners.

Close partnership working is key to preventing a crisis from escalating and improving an individual’s well being. We actively work with our partner agencies to ensure we can identify the best response for those experiencing mental health crises.

Section 136 is a power available to police where a person found in a public place, suffering from mental ill health who is in immediate need of care or control, may be detained and removed to a place of safety in their own interests or that of others.

In 2015 Thames Valley Police rolled out mental health training to every front line officer in the Force. The training highlights the experiences and outcomes of people who come into contact with police when having a mental health crisis. It also improved awareness, confidence and joint relationships between the health and police services. Partner agencies have been involved in the training which has enabled a programme of continued follow up events to challenge and test our joint working practice.

In eight of the Local Policing Areas (LPA) a street triage scheme in in operation, the LPA’s are Oxford, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes, Reading, Bracknell & Wokingham, West Berkshire, Wycombe and Chiltern and South Bucks.

These schemes see police officers and mental health professionals working side by side to find less restrictive and alternative options to the use of Section 136 and so avoid using custody as a place of safety.

Thames Valley Police is supporting the annual UK event being run by the Mental Health Foundation which aims to educate the public about mental health issues and promote better mental health.

Police forces across the country will be raising awareness of mental health and highlighting the police role in caring for people suffering mental ill health during a campaign that runs from Monday 16th May 2016 to Sunday 22nd May 2016.

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