Mental health is a top priority for the Met

News item posted: 19 June 2017

That is the message from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe one year on from the publication of a report by an Independent Commission - led by Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of Turning Point - which made 28 recommendations after examining the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) response to mental health and the interface between the MPS, mental health services and partners.

With one in four people likely to face a mental health issue and up to 40 per cent of all MPS work relating to people with mental health vulnerability in the capital, mental health is recognised by the Met as a core part of policing.

Lord Adebowale's report highlighted how the MPS needed to change to better equip front-line officers when dealing with people with mental health issues.

Today, Tuesday June 3, Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was joined by Lord Victor Adebowale to highlight the progress being made in the form of Liaison and Diversion which places mental health teams in custody suites, so that people who enter custody with suspected mental health issues, can be assessed and referred for treatment at the earliest opportunity.

Liaison and Diversion, commissioned by NHS England (London), is now provided in the majority of MPS custody suites and full coverage will be available across the MPS by the end of 2014

The MPS said in their press release that the Commissioner is grateful to Lord Adebowale for carrying out this work and to the families who also made an important contribution. They additionally referenced that they have fundamentally looked again at how they work as an organisation, and with partner agencies, to improve services, share information and better understand the needs of people with mental ill health with the aim of delivering a service that can be best adapted to fit individual needs.

There have been more than 50,000 reports submitted by front-line staff in London concerning vulnerable people, including those with mental health issues, since April 2013. That equates to an average of just over 1,100 reports per week.

Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "We are changing the way we think and deal with people who are vulnerable. My officers recognise better now than ever that people who have mental health issues need the right access, help and support to services.

"Our officers are not experts but we have helped them recognise mental health issues and how to get the right help."

"We have come a long way but there is still more to do and we will continue to work with our partners to improve how we respond to those with mental health needs. This report gives us options to prevent police officers coming to conflict with people who only need health care."

Lord Victor Adebowale said in response that: "It's good to see that mental health has been recognised by the police as core business. It's also a core concern of the public."

"I would like to thank the families that have supported the report and also thank the work of the commissioners of the independent commission."

"This is not an end to the process - it's the beginning of building a police force that can respond to the needs of all people."

Dr Alison Frater, Head of Public Health and Health in the Justice System at NHS England in London, said: "A high percentage of people who come into contact with the police and justice system have complex health and social care needs, which are not always identified by police officers. This has meant that people often don't get the support and treatment they need in a timely manner."

"We are committed to continue our work with the Metropolitan Police Service in order to reduce health inequalities and improve the physical and mental health of those that come into contact with front line police officers. It is through this approach that we will help reduce re-offending and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, whilst improving health outcomes. We are delighted that one year on from Lord Adebowale's Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing we have been able to meet our recommendations, and that Liaison and Diversion services will be available at every Metropolitan police station by the end of 2014."

Since the report's publication, the MPS has been working hard to implement the recommendations made by the Independent Commission and will be publishing a report later this year updating on our progress.

This work includes:

• Working with NHS England [London] and partners to launch Liaison and Diversion north-east London pilot, which places mental health teams in 13 custody suites, so vulnerable adults and younger people with suspected mental health issues, learning disabilities and/or substance misuse problems, who enter police custody, can be assessed and referred for treatment at the earliest opportunity.

• Continue to work with NHS England (London) to ensure the Governance and accountablity of existing Liaison & Diversion services are consistent and robust.

• Reviewing mental health training and introducing the Vulnerability Assessment Framework - this has been developed in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, and uses a simple tool for officers to recognise vulnerability. The VAF has been developed and delivered to all front-line Territorial Policing officers with roll-out expected to take place across the Met by the end of the year.

• Establishing the Vulnerability Independent Advisory Group - a high-level expert group of stakeholders who provide the MPS with ongoing specific advice regarding matters such as training, policy and procedure.

• Contributing to the Department of Health Crisis Care Concordat [a formal agreement between organisations, which sets out the standards of care people should expect if they suffer a mental health crisis and details].

• Working in partnership with the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the LAS to develop a partnership training DVD for all officers and staff. This will be available from September.

Other ways in which the MPS is working nationally and with partners across the health spectrum to progress the recommendations:

• The continuation of an internal Diamond Group to provide strategic leadership over the work that is being developed and is ongoing within the MPS in relation to mental health.

• Further development of the Pan London Mental Health Partnership Board, to include a working group, to provide a consistent and collaborative approach to partnership working between three London police forces, London Ambulance Service and the nine Mental Health Trusts across London.

Notes:

In September 2012, the Commissioner requested an independent commission to look at the MPS response to mental health. It was also asked to examine the interface between the MPS, mental health services and other partners.

The report, by Lord Adebowale, was published on 10 May 2013 with 28 recommendations made. The MPS has been working hard to implement these recommendations.

Read the full report here.