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Street triage scheme sees mental health nurses support police

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Another five police forces have been selected to pilot a scheme that allows mental health nurses to accompany them to emergencies, the Department of Health has announced.

The new street triage scheme enables mental health nurses to attend incidents where police believe there is a need for immediate mental health support.

As part of the scheme, mental health nurses will support police officers when they are out on patrol, assist officers when they are responding to emergency calls and give advice to staff in police control rooms.

The aim is to ensure that people are treated appropriately and get the medical attention that they need as quickly as possible.

The latest set of police forces that will be trialling the scheme are the Metropolitan Police, the British Transport Police, West Yorkshire Police, West Midlands Police and Thames Valley Police.

Initial reports from established street triage schemes in Leicestershire and Cleveland show that it can help to keep people out of custodial settings and reduce the demands on police time.

North Yorkshire, Sussex, Derbyshire and Devon and Cornwall police forces have already set up their pilots this summer.

Viv Bennett, the government's director of nursing, recognised that nurses play an invaluable role in helping people with mental health problems. 'These new street triage pilots will make sure that people get the help and assessments they need as quickly as possible in times of crisis,' she said.

Norman Lamb, the care and support minister, also praised the scheme. 'We know that some police forces are already doing an extremely good job of handling circumstances involving mentally ill people but we want this to be the reality everywhere,' he said.

'We have already seen encouraging results from the other pilot sites and I am excited that these five additional police forces are trialling this important scheme.'

It is hoped that by providing police forces with the support of health professionals officers can have the skills they need to treat vulnerable people appropriately in times of crisis.

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