A new scheme will see Thames Valley Police work in partnership with mental health professionals to ensure people in distress get appropriate care.
The Street Triage scheme, which will cover Slough, Windsor, Maidenhead and Bracknell, will see professionals from East Berkshire's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) made available to attend incidents with police officers from today.
They will be able to offer face-to-face advice, make accurate risk assessments and give the right care to the patient.
It is hoped the scheme will reduce the need for police to take people suffering from mental health problems into custody for safety reasons, as provided for under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
The service will involve one mental health professional working alongside police officers between 5pm and 2am, Thursdays to Sundays.
The scheme is already running in other areas of Thames Valley including Oxfordshire, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury, Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham.
Supt Gavin Wong, police commander for Slough, said: “This is a new and innovative scheme which will see mental health professionals and police officers working side-by-side in providing a better service to vulnerable people in a crisis state in Slough, The Royal Borough and Bracknell.
“The more effective early assessment by a health professional will mean mental health patients receive a response which is more appropriate to their needs.
He added: “We understand that police custody is not always the ideal place for those suffering with mental ill health until an acceptable alternative is found, so this new scheme will help to address this.”
Supt Bobbi Rai, police commander for Windsor and Maidenhead, said: “We work hard to give the best possible service to our communities and are constantly looking to see how we can improve the service we provide. This scheme is part of how we work with our partners to keep people safe by providing an effective and efficient response to vulnerable people calling us for help.
“I am looking forward to seeing the benefits that this scheme will bring to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities because it really is about keeping people safe.”
Dr Jim O’Donnell, clinical chairman for Slough Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This important initiative recognises that people with mental health problems need care and support at what can be a very distressing time. The CCGs in East Berkshire have invested to further improve mental health services and the GPs across the area will be pleased to see this new service in place.”
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