A mental health triage scheme has been praised for saving the taxpayer £1.1 million and halving the number of people detained by police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
West Midlands Police launched the ground-breaking triage teams in January 2014 in unmarked ambulances that are staffed by a police officer, a psychiatric nurse and a paramedic.
The initiative, which responds to people in crisis, aims to give people suffering from mental health issues much better initial support on the city’s streets.
The pilot started in Birmingham and Solihull, but was deemed to be such a success that it was also rolled out across the West Midlands into Coventry and the Black Country.
Since April 2015, the Birmingham scheme alone has prevented 581 police resources being dispatched to incidents and 800 ambulance resources.
The number of Section 136 detentions has also reduced from 686 to 333.
An update on the scheme to the board, which was delivered by the crime commissioner’s mental health champion Paulette Hamilton, revealed the huge falls in A&E attendances had saved £416,000 while the huge cut in sections under 136 of the Mental Health Act had saved a further £712,620.
Assistant Chief Constable Michele Larmour told the meeting that the two-year-old scheme had been a “real success” and was due to be awarded funding for a further year.
ACC Larmour credited chief inspector Sean Russell for the “huge amount of work” he had done with partners and told board members that the scheme would be extended for another 12 months pending sign off from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
Crime Commissioner David Jamieson also singled out Insp Russell and Paulette Hamilton for praise and described the scheme as outstanding.
Earlier this year, Richard Clarke, from the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust , showed the Post around the Birmingham ‘place of safety’ which opened in 2010 at Edgbaston’s Oleaster Centre near the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Explaining how it works, the senior emergency care coordinator at the trust said: “Prior to 2010 people suffering from mental ill health on the streets of Birmingham deemed to be a danger to themselves or a danger to others were taken to police cells or to A&E.
“The triage teams help to identify people in need of support who are instead brought to the place of safety where they can get better.
“We always make sure that somebody is there to meet anybody who is brought in at the doors and we bring them in to a calm and safe environment for assessment.”
“We have become really efficient at this and we are now looked on as a national lead.
“Helping people in crisis is the priority for everybody on the team.”