A NEW approach to policing incidents involving people with mental ill-health has been launched as part of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Cheshire Police and healthcare partners met at Halton Stadium for a briefing to discuss the outcomes of ‘Operation Emblem’ – a project launched in December 2013.

The pilot project has meant community psychiatric nurses have accompanied officers to offer advice and help reduce the number of people being unnecessarily taken to hospital.

In the first fortnight, pilot commissioners estimated a system-wide saving of £35,000 and, consequently, the scheme has been funded for a further 12 months.

Kate Woods, leading the project on behalf of Cheshire Police, said: “While the Police deal with the initial call-out about an individual displaying unusual behaviour, the issue is not as simple as it might seem.”

Nurses, who help officers to identify if a person’s behaviour is a result of drug or alcohol dependency, can access the individual’s care plan if they are known to authorities.

Margi Butler, Head of Mental Health and Learning Disability Commissioning in Warrington, added: “By working together we have been able to realise real benefits for patients and the economy.
“This has eased the pressure on our police resources while offering vulnerable people a more supportive way.”

Meanwhile, officers have praised the all-encompassing scheme which has nurses taken out of their normal environments.

PC Mark Jenkins, one of two officers dedicated to Emblem, added: “I have been really impressed with the overwhelming support from the nurses.

“To date we have so far covered 63 shifts and ensured people experiencing mental health issues are receiving the right support from the outset.”

John Dwyer, Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “The project is about ensuring people with mental health needs receive support whether they’re a victim, witness or offender.”