Mental health specialists to be placed in Redbridge police stations as part of London-wide pilot

Specialist mental health teams will be placed in police stations across 10 London boroughs – including Redbridge – as part of a new pilot initiative.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and NHS England, who commissioned the pilot, believe it will reach more than 2.5 million people.

People with suspected mental health issues, learning disabilities, substance misuse problems, who enter police custody can now be assessed and referred for treatment.

Currently, there are existing teams in place in some boroughs but more have been introduced since the formal launch at the beginning of this month.

The Met and its partners involved in the pilot hope to have teams across all 10 boroughs by the start of May.

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Ch Supt Chris Bourlet, from the MPS, said: “Mental health teams working in police stations is a very positive initiative.

“We know people coming into police custody are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.

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“We can make sure those people get the most appropriate support when they leave.”

Barnet, Enfield, Haringey, Islington, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham, Barking and Dagenham and Havering are the other nine boroughs involved in the pilot.

Dr Alison Frater, from NHS England in London, who oversees issues of public health within the justice system, believes those with health issues in police custody do not get help quickly enough.

She said: “People with mental health issues and other vulnerabilities who come into contact with the youth and adult justice systems often don’t get the support and treatment they need and even when they do, it doesn’t happen very quickly.

Dr Frater added if the issue was addressed it would have a beneficial impact overall because it would reduce people re-offending.

She said: “This pilot will help ensure individuals can get the right help in a timely manner, so we can cut health inequalities, improve physical and mental health, reduce crime and re-offending, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system.”

Liz Felton, chief executive at Together for Mental Wellbeing, is keen for the pilot to be fully implemented across the capital.

She added: “Over the last 20 years our charity have helped to break the revolving door cycle for thousands of individuals with mental health needs.

“We are eager to utilise our experience to support NHS England to roll out this work more widely so that we can help even more Londoners experiencing health and social care inequalities to lead a life away from crime.”

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