A project that sees police and mental health services working together to ensure people in distress get appropriate care is being launched across the Vale today (Monday).
The Street Triage scheme aims to improve the overall experience and access to appropriate care for people who call the police when they are in a mentally unstable state.
In Aylesbury Vale, there will be two mental health professionals from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust working alongside police officers between 5pm and 4.30am every day.
The mental health professionals are there to attend incidents with police officers so they can offer face-to-face advice, make accurate risk assessments and give the right care to the patient.
The project aims to avoid using custody as a place of safety and reduce the amount of time police officers spend on mental health incidents.
It also seeks to find alternatives to the use of Section 136 - 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.
The launch of the Aylesbury scheme comes following a successful pilot in Oxfordshire.
Supt Olly Wright, LPA Commander for Aylesbury Vale said: “I am really pleased that we have Street Triage starting here in Aylesbury Vale, and soon across the rest of Buckinghamshire.
“It’s true that significant amounts of police time have been saved as a result of the scheme in Oxfordshire, and it will be great news to replicate those efficiencies here.
“However, that’s not primarily what Street Triage is about; by having trained mental health professionals working alongside police officers, we’ll provide a much better service to vulnerable people in need of help, with more effective early assessment and involvement of appropriate support.
“For years, too many people suffering from mental health crisis have found themselves being taken into police custody because there’s been nowhere else for them to go, or the police officers haven’t known what else to do to keep them safe.
“Triage will mean that custody really does become the place of last resort.
“I’m very grateful for our partners in the NHS who have made this possible.”
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust clinical director of adult services Rob Bale said: “The Street Triage scheme has proved very effective in Oxfordshire and so we are delighted that it will now be implemented in Buckinghamshire.
“The objectives of the scheme are to reduce the number of Section 136s given out and to make sure police and mental health professionals are working together to ensure better awareness and experience.
“It is an excellent example of effective partnership working between police and the NHS that means more people are getting appropriate mental health support at the earliest opportunity.
“I look forward to seeing its success extended to Buckinghamshire and elsewhere.”