Officers and staff at North Yorkshire Police are due to receive mental health training developed through a partnership between the police, the University of York and Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).
The bespoke training will be delivered by mental health professionals from TEWV as part of a plan to train all front-line staff – from police officers to call handlers – from 9 January 2018 onwards.
It is the result of a collaboration known as the “Connect – Mental Health” partnership involving academic research, consultation with service users, and a randomised control trial. The project was launched in 2015 after the force successfully applied for a £1m grant from the College of Policing’s Police Knowledge Fund.
The purpose of the training is to increase awareness and identification of mental health vulnerabilities, improve the recording of incidences involving people with mental ill-health, enhance skills in communicating with people in mental distress, provide a clearer understanding of referral pathways into mental health services, and aid multi-agency working.
Deputy Chief Constable Lisa Winward, said: “People are at the heart of what we do and the more we understand people’s challenges and vulnerabilities, the better our service will be.
“Mental health is a frequent factor in many incidents that the police are called to, whether a person is a victim of crime, a witness, a perpetrator, or someone who is calling us as a cry for help, and it is vital that we can recognise the signs of mental ill-health and are able to obtain the best possible outcome for that person.
“The police are not mental health experts, nor should we have such an expectation of them, but our officers and staff do need to understand when a person needs proper mental health care.
“The training will provide this awareness and I am very grateful to the project team and TEWV for their work which has culminated in the training package we are now able to roll out to all of our front-line staff.”
Inspector Bill Scott, North Yorkshire Police’s lead for mental health, was part of the Connect team and played a key role in the development of the training. He said: “North Yorkshire Police, University of York and TEWV have worked in a fantastic partnership to help improve policing services for mentally vulnerable people.
“Our role in society has always featured responding to the needs of people in distress. For complex reasons, this is an increasing proportion of our work. This training is a great step towards improving how we can help people get the most relevant intervention at the earliest opportunity, and to further develop the connections between police, health and social care agencies to keep people safe, well and away from inappropriate involvement with the Criminal Justice System.”
Liz Herring, Head of Adult Mental Health Services in North Yorkshire at TEWV, added: “We are really pleased to be able to help support North Yorkshire Police in developing their understanding of mental health illnesses.
“TEWV staff are generously providing 76 days of time for free over the next three months, with a further 76 days planned after this, to equip officers with basic knowledge and guidance to help them deal effectively with individuals they may come into contact with. It’s important that people with mental health illnesses receive the appropriate treatment and support as soon as possible and in addition to our street triage and liaison and diversion services this is another important step forward in achieving this.”
Professor David Torgerson, Director of the York Trials Unit at the University of York, said: “We have been delighted to work with North Yorkshire Police on this initiative.
“This project shows that it is possible to undertake randomised controlled trials in a complex operational environment.
“We are pleased the trial has informed the roll out of mental health training across the Force.”
Approximately 1,500 staff will be trained over this year.
Last modified: January 9, 2018