Mental health patients detained by police in Norfolk | Crime


Norman Lamb demanded urgent action. Photo: PA / Andrew Matthews

Norman Lamb demanded urgent action. Photo: PA / Andrew Matthews

Images from archive PA / PA

A Norfolk lawmaker has called for urgent action after alleging that people with mental health problems are still being illegally detained and transported in police vehicles.

Stuart Richardson, director of operations for the NSFT. Photo: NSFTStuart Richardson, director of operations for the NSFT. Photo: NSFT

Norman Lamb, a parliamentarian from North Norfolk, first raised concerns in January and received assurances from heads of mental health.

But today he said he received information that "nothing has changed".

Earlier this year, a Freedom of Information request revealed that people in Norfolk had been detained in police stations for more than 40 hours, awaiting evaluation or transfer to the hospital.

It also revealed that police vehicles were being used regularly to transport patients to the hospital.

Mr Lamb requested a meeting with the Norfolk Constabulary, the Norfolk County Council, the East of England Ambulance Service, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) and the North Norfolk CCG to discuss these issues in January.

He said he was certain that work was being put into place to "solve the situation."

But this week Mr. Lamb said he was given new information to suggest that patients are still regularly detained at police stations and transported in police vehicles.

NSFT said in response: "We are all doing our best within a highly pressured health care system, which has many conflicting demands for all of our resources."

T / ACC Nick Davison. Photo: ANTONY KELLYT / ACC Nick Davison. Photo: ANTONY KELLY

But Lamb said the current situation is "intolerable."

T / ACC Nick Davison Of the Norfolk Police, said there is a "considerable strain" on police resources.

"The key role of the police service is to keep members of the public safe and protect them from harm and this is our main goal in any situation," he said.

"We will always support other emergency services and local authorities and our staff will be dedicated to helping the public when our assistance is needed.

"However, doing so overloads our own resources and limits our ability to handle our core business.

"This means that by working with our partners we must redouble our efforts to ensure that some of the most vulnerable members of our communities receive the support they need."

Mr. Lamb added: "I understand that individuals are still being held illegally in police stations. I understand that the police continue to have to take people to the hospital in the absence of an ambulance and I understand that the police are still being used to supervise people in the hospital for long periods of time.

"This is an intolerable situation and I am really concerned that the assurances I received that the solutions would be found were not met."

Image: Denise BradleyImage: Denise Bradley

The East England Ambulance Service said they "prioritize the response to the sickest patients first," while the NSFT said that the surge in demand over the past five years is "pushing services."

"These very serious failures of the system need to be resolved urgently and I hope the major parties will meet with me to get to the bottom of this," added Mr. Lamb.

Terry Hicks, head of services at Norfolk and Waveney, said: "We respond to all calls and prioritize the response to our sickest patients and we are committed to providing the most appropriate support to all our patients.

"We work closely with the police and other partners to provide the right response to those who need our help, and we will continue to look at how services can be improved together."

NSFT working closely with the police

Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer of the NSFT, said: "Mental health is a system-wide issue and the NSFT is already working closely with our partner organizations, including police, ambulance service, GPs and social assistance to improve quality of services provided. all our users of the service.

"As has been seen in other NHS trusts nationwide, the demand for mental health services has been steadily increasing in the last five years by people who are getting sicker than ever and we are seeing more and more people in crisis. This, in turn, puts more pressure on all of our services.

"We are working in partnership with our stewards to collectively manage these issues.

"We are all doing the best we can within a highly pressured healthcare system that has many conflicting demands on all of our resources.

"Through our close partnership with the police, we are doing a lot to avoid the need for such arrests.

"These initiatives ensure that people who come to police attention receive timely assessment of their mental health needs and are directed to the appropriate services at the earliest opportunity."

Richardson said the initiatives include mental health staff working in police control rooms, attending police consultations in Norfolk when police identify a concerned person and work in mental health screening cars with police officers in Suffolk.

"Our mental health nurses work inside the police control rooms, to try to avoid the need for a detention in the first place," he said. "Our staff can help the police signal people to appropriate places of security and avoid detention under the mental health law unless the risk of violence is too high for a health-based safety location.

"In Suffolk, our team works with officers in the mental health screening car. This shows that a mental health team attends incidents alongside police officers when people appear to be experiencing mental health difficulties.

"Our trust also has a criminal justice (L & D) liaison and diversion service. From its bases at police stations and courts, the L & D team identifies anyone with a vulnerability that may be a factor in their offense or recidivism and will talk to the options available to them. They will then be referred to the appropriate services so they can receive support as they go through the justice system and the mental health or social care service.

"Often individuals who have been taken by the police to the suite are extremely distressed, vulnerable and may be physically or verbally violent. Therefore, the Police may need to be present until an evaluation of the Mental Health Act has been performed by the local authority, and we can admit the individual to a treatment facility. "


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