Mental health teams help police in triage pilot

A new, more flexible approach to dealing with people with mental health problems is being piloted across Dumfries and Galloway by the NHS and Police Scotland.

The pilot scheme, which launches this week and has backing from the Scottish Government’s Improvement Fund, will see additional resources made available.

Kelvin Frew, Team Leader of the NHS Crisis Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS) explained: “Currently, when police officers come into contact with an individual who is displaying signs, or behaving in a way which indicate that they may be suffering from some form of mental health problem, there can be complex challenges of arranging a mental health assessment for that individual.

“The new Police Triage Service will provide more options and creates the opportunity for safer, timely responses for individuals that are of concern.”

Robert White is a community mental health nurse in the CATS Team and has been involved in the development of the pilot.

He said: “Basically, what we are trying to do is offer more measured options which will speed up the process of finding a suitable resolution for the person concerned, and mental health nurses will be available 24/7 to assist in this regard.

“The pilot scheme is underpinned by joint training which will help develop working relationships and practices between mental health services and policing across the region.”

Superintendent Irvine Watson, Operational Policing Commander for the Dumfries and Galloway Division, said: “I welcome the introduction of the pilot scheme which will support and aid the decision-making process between officers and CATS Team staff and hopefully improve the outcomes for all concerned.”