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Mental health staff to ride alongside response officers in Cambridgeshire

Staff from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust accompany officers in two specialist response cars, the second of which began operating following the success of the first.

Mental health staff are to ride alongside police called out to crises in Cambridgeshire, as part of a new initiative that is hoped will reduce the amount of time officers spend at related incidents.

The scheme will see specialists from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) accompany police in two specialist response cars, the second of which was brought into operation after the first proved a success when launched last year.

So far, the first response car has dealt with around 50 incidents a month. The cars are also directed to deal with emergencies that aren't mental health related.

Beyond reducing the time officers spend at mental health incidents, the initiative - funded by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care System - also means that those in crisis are given specialist support earlier.

Detective Inspector Dan Cooper said: “When people are experiencing a mental health crisis, they need specialist care as soon as possible. This scheme allows that to happen and also helps to free up vital policing resource.

“The mental health practitioners have been invaluable during the pilot scheme. Without them on hand, often officers would have to either take the person in crisis to A&E and wait with them or use policing powers to section the person.

“With so many hours of officers’ time taken up dealing with incidents which involve mental health, and demand for our services at an all-time high, the extension of this scheme is excellent news that benefits everyone.”

Cambridgeshire is one of a number of forces to have its officers join forces with mental health specialists in this way, with Devon and Cornwall and Bedfordshire among those to run similar schemes intended to offer a joint response.

Jamie Secker, Service Manager at CPFT, added: “Our staff can offer instant expert support to someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Having a nurse who knows what to do often puts people at ease when they’re feeling at their most vulnerable

“We recognise that police officers are stretched, so if we’re able to speed up some of the processes and take on some of the referral paperwork, it frees them up to do other important tasks."

The vehicles are on patrol from 3pm - 11pm Sunday to Thursday and 5pm - 1am Friday to Saturday. 

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