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Pledge to end response teams being used as 'mental health ambulances'

The Department of Health has promised £150m in a bid to reduce demand on officers to deal with mental health cases.

Calls from response officers to reduce demand generated by mental health interventions have been heard, the Health Secretary has revealed.

Plans have been unveiled to overhaul mental health services including specialist ambulances as part of a £150m investment.

The Department of Health pledges to “prevent the inappropriate use of police vehicles as a way to take people to hospital”.

Wide-ranging reforms include more support for ‘crisis houses’ in the community and a new demand for courts to send people direct to mental health units rather than using prisons as assessment ‘holding’ units.

The Health Secretary also announced new legislation that will create a new offence to prevent the online harm of people who target vulnerable people with the aim of encouraging them to commit suicide.

These were all recommendations from Professor Sir Simon Wessely’s independent review of the Mental Health Act.

At this stage, it is draft legislation and forces plus staff groups have been urged to contribute feedback.

Police leaders are assessing the announcement but Chiefs and the Federation broadly welcomed the announcement as “good news”.

The £150m investment over the next three years will bolster NHS mental health services, better support people in crisis outside of A&E and enhance patient safety in mental health units.

The funding includes £7m for specialised mental health ambulances across the country to reduce the use of general ambulance call outs for those experiencing a mental health crisis.

The DH also wants to improve post-incident support. A project in Kent found 30% of all suspected suicides in a two year period were linked to domestic abuse.

Forces and staff influencers were also urged to work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on new legislation in the Online Harms White Paper to strengthen the duty of care for tech firms.

It will target material that details how to commit suicide, treating it in the same way as bomb making manuals, plus organised ‘tipping’ groups who directly urge vulnerable people to commit suicide.

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