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People suffering with mental health problems need better support


A local action plan to better support individuals in mental health crisis is being co-ordinated by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens.

It follows the signing of a national agreement by Police and Crime Commissioners and a number of organisations, to improve crisis care for people with mental health needs across England.

The national agreement called the Mental Health Concordat sets out commitments to work together to improve access to support before crisis point, the right quality of treatment and care when in crisis and recovery.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens will be a leading partner in delivering the local action plan which will deliver the Concordat’s goals.

On April 30, Sue Mountstevens will be holding a mental health conference to start work on the action plan with local partners, such as the police and health organisations. The conference will be attended by Lord Adebowale, the Chief Executive of Turning Point, a drugs, alcohol and mental health charity and the Chair of the Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I am really pleased to be hosting a mental health conference to address the issue of better supporting people in mental health crisis. The concordat and the local action plan will allow all agencies the opportunity to work together on a joint approach.”

The Concordat also sets out principles around an issue close to Sue Mountstevens heart the use of police cells for detaining people under section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

The section 136 legislation was designed so that police cells would only be used exceptionally as a place of safety. In Avon and Somerset in 2012-13 1086 people were detained under the Mental Health Act and 646 of those ended up in a police cell.

Sue Mountstevens added: “I have been very vocal that police cells are not the appropriate place for people suffering from mental illness. Individuals with mental health needs, many of whom have committed no crime, need a health based response as they would for any physical health condition.

“Only this month a new four-bed mental health unit at Southmead Hospital opened. This is excellent progress. However there is still more that we can do. There is still no place of safety for children under the age of 16 in the old Avon area. I am determined to see that detainees and victims of crime with mental health problems receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

“Reports indicate that responding to the needs of individuals in mental health crisis can account for 20% of police time. When in many cases, many of the individuals need help from health and social care agencies not the police. We will be looking at all these issues and the various new national approaches as we develop the local action plan for Avon and Somerset.”


Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2014
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