On 1 February 2017, the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) launched a public consultation on proposals laid out in the Mental Health Acute Care Pathway review, with implications for policing in the county.
Alongside 1,155 others, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) provided expert feedback and made a number of recommendations for due consideration by the Governing Body of NHS Dorset CCG at the upcoming decision-making meeting on Wednesday 20 September 2017.
Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said: “It is well-established that those suffering with mental health problems are more likely to become victims of crime, or alternatively come into contact with policing as a result of behaviour that causes concern in the community.
“If an individual enters mental health crisis in police custody, there is no legal authority to continue the detention of the individual if a bed cannot be identified in a health setting. Custody officers are then placed in an untenable position: holding a detainee without the legal grounds to do so or releasing a person who is a risk to themselves and/or the public.
“As such, I warmly welcome proposals put forward for 16 additional inpatient beds across Dorset. Police officers are not mental health professionals and adequate provision of appropriate care is vital to meet the needs of individuals at risk.”
In recent years, policing has taken on increasing and misplaced demand in relation to mental health. The OPCC supports a number of proposals made in the CCG review that aim to minimise the risk of mental health crisis.
The PCC continued: “The creation of two new retreats where people can go to get the right support is a positive step forward. I recommend that in addition to a retreat in Bournemouth, the second is located in Dorchester rather than Weymouth to improve the accessibility of the service to those in West and North Dorset.”
The consultation asked the public to consider options: seven recovery beds and three Community Front Rooms, or ten recovery beds and two Community Front Rooms.
The OPCC recommended the former. Though more recovery beds remain preferable, note was taken of the resourcing demands involved. The OPCC is hopeful that enhanced 24/7 crisis support via phone, email and Skype – alongside an additional Community Front Room to make peer support more widely available – will reduce the overall risk of individuals suffering mental health crises and the subsequent demand on inpatient beds.
The PCC concluded: “There is much to be welcomed in this review. However, beyond this Wednesday’s meeting, I support the ongoing efforts of our CCG partners to actively monitor demand and resource mental health services accordingly.”