Police to attend fewer mental health calls under new way of working
Date: 08 November 2023
Right Care, Right Person (RCRP) which launched across London on Wednesday 1 November 2023 provides new guidance about when the Metropolitan Police Service will, and will not, respond to health-related calls.
The aim of Right Care, Right Person is to reduce inappropriate police involvement in care where help from a medical professional is more appropriate.
Officers will continue to attend calls where there is an immediate risk to life – such as a person who may be at risk of taking their life, or threatening others.
RCRP also entails the setting up of a new 24/7 helpline for officers to call to get special mental health advice around whether to detain someone under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
Under the new approach, police call handlers will now operate a triage system to connect callers to the most appropriate resources, whether that is a health care professional or to police where there is risk of harm to a person.
They will no longer attend welfare checks for people who have missed an appointment or not taken medication. They will also no longer look for people who have walked out of mental health facilities or hospitals unless there is a reason for police to be involved.
Martin Sanford-Hayles, Managing Director of Social Care at North London Mental Health Partnerships said: "We want to help keep people safe, free from harm and able to access the care they need. Right Care, Right Person will enable us to do this, but it will also be a change to how our teams currently work.
"Although the police will attend fewer mental health calls, they’ll still be there to help if someone is at risk of harm, or if they need help to be safe."
Section 136 helpline pilot
As part of this new way of working, North London Mental Health Partnership is piloting a new dedicated 24/7, 365 days per year NHS telephone helpline service for British Transport Police, City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police.
Launched on Monday 30 October 2023, mental health staff will advise police calling the Mental Health Clinical Advice line before they decide to detain an individual under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. NHS analysis shows that 8 in 10 people who are sectioned in London would benefit from community support rather than a hospital admission.
The new mental health clinical advice line is a pilot being run with mental health colleagues in south London. The pilot service will help to make sure that vulnerable people experiencing a mental health crisis get quicker access to the right care and support.
The pilot forms part of wider police and NHS joint working to improve support for people experiencing mental health crises.
David Bowen-Cassie, Senior Programme Manager for Crisis Transformation, at North London Mental Health Partnership said: "The new 24/7 police mental health clinical advice line, together with Right Care, Right Person, means we are working better together to ensure people in a mental health crisis receive the right support, to ensure the best outcomes. Police can keep people safe, and they can also get the help and advice they need from an NHS mental health professional."
People should continue to call 999 in an emergency, or 111 in a non-emergency or visit nhs.uk to find out what other mental health support is available.