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New Approach to Mental Health Concerns Reported to the Police

Published on: 23 Apr, 2024
Updated on: 25 Apr, 2024

The way 999 calls regarding welfare or mental health concerns for adults are responded to is set to change across Surrey, as local NHS Trusts, the ambulance service, social care teams, and Surrey Police work together to implement “Right Care Right Person”.

Right Care Right Person is a national model being rolled out across the UK aimed at ensuring adults with health-related concerns get the help they need from the right expert or agency.

First adopted at Humberside Police, the model recognises that police officers often cannot provide the level of specialist medical care or support required by those seeking help for their mental health.

Right Care Right Person was commenced yesterday (April 22)  in Surrey, where the model will be used to triage incoming 999 calls and decide on an appropriate course of action, including whether to deploy police officers.

Considerations will only be applied to calls for service relating to adults and will not be applied to calls concerning a child or young person under 18 years old.

Chief Constable Tim De Meyer

Chief Constable Tim De Meyer said: “Using the Right Care Right Person model will not mean withdrawing from all welfare or mental health-related calls, and there will many cases where deploying a police officer is the right thing to do.

“This includes where there is a threat to life, a policing purpose such as incidents of violence, or a clear need for an urgent response. We have a duty to protect the public, and will continue to do so.

“However, in other cases it is recognised that the police is not the correct agency to respond. Our highly skilled and compassionate officers and staff are there to keep Surrey safe but are not trained or best placed to deliver specialist or prolonged mental health care.

“Working with our partners we can best support those seeking help for their mental health, and make sure that our officers are out doing the jobs only they can do – preventing and solving crime.

“In February, 291 hours were spent dispatching to 175 metal health calls, and we are expecting this number to fall in the months ahead.”

Graham Wareham, Chief Executive at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We want the right person to support someone in distress or crisis, to ensure nobody is in danger. We value the way in which Surrey Police has engaged with us and have been reassured that Surrey Police will continue to attend calls when that is the right approach.”

Cllr Tim Oliver

Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council said: “We understand the intentions of Right Care, Right Person, and – like other local partners – we are committed to working with Surrey Police to help them introduce the scheme for adults in a safe and sensitive way for residents and staff alike.

“We also understand this model will not mean police withdraw from all welfare or mental health related calls and we know there will continue to be many cases where deploying a police officer is the right thing to do. In partnership, we will work together to ensure residents are provided with the right type of care and support from the most appropriate agency.”

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