Agenda item

Mental Health - verbal update


1.    The Commissioner provided an update on his work around Mental Health.  An important development was the adoption of a Joint Mental Health Strategy between Kent Police and Kent & Medway Partnership Trust (KMPT), which involved oversight meetings involving the Commissioner, Kent Police, KMPT and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), at which he would appropriately challenge activity.  In addition, Street Triage had been embedded in Thanet and had recently started in Medway.


2.    The Commissioner advised the Panel that he had awarded funding to various community groups across the county from his Mental Health and Policing Fund, including Talk It Out in Deal, to provide a mental health café during the week that facilitates and encourages independence through peer based support.  He had also provided funding to Dads Unlimited in Ashford, the Folkestone Sports Centre Trust and Youth Ngage in Gravesham.


3.    The Commissioner explained that he had also provided funding to enable Community Wardens to receive Mental Health first aid training so they can better support vulnerable people. He said in total around £150k had been allocated, in addition to £80k set aside for Kent Police projects within the Force Control Room, the Medway Safe Haven Bus and the Tonbridge and Maidstone mental health crisis cafes.


4.    The Commissioner explained that elements of the Policing and Crime Act had been introduced in April 2017, but secondary legislation was expected in the autumn to ban the use of police cells for the detention of children in mental health crisis, and detention of adults only in the most extreme circumstances.  The Commissioner said that he was working with Police Superintendents and others, who had raised concerns around unintended consequences of the Bail Act reforms, particularly in relation to the impact on Police when no appropriate place of safety can be identified.  The Commissioner advised the Panel that he was working with the Deputy Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police on a regional project called Mental Health East, which mirrored the geographic area for the Eastern Region Collaboration area; Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent.  This project was focused on developing improved crisis management processes alongside the mental health concordat by learning from each other.  This project was being supported by all relevant Commissioners and their respective Forces.


5.    Responding to questions from Panel Members, the Commissioner explained that his work with CCGs was progressing, with his focus being on encouraging them to take more of a partnership approach around commissioning plans in relation to mental health and taking into account the demands on other agencies.  The Commissioner advised that there were challenges involved in this engagement but they were being worked on.


6.    Responding to questions, the Commissioner advised that the issue of policing activity linked with mental health was difficult to quantify in terms of success.  However, he highlighted some key points, noting that s136 detentions were up but that the improved pathways now in place meant that fewer ended up in police custody due to positive work undertaken by the Commissioner and KMPT.  He also noted that searching for missing persons was another major demand on police time, 14% of all police time nationally based on 2012 estimates, with an estimated 20% of this involving mental health issues. Linked with this was the issue of absconders from care and hospital settings where mental health was a significant factor and the Commissioner advised that he was working hard to ensure other agencies that should be taking responsibility for dealing with these issues were meeting their obligations.


7.    Responding to questions on Street Triage, the Commissioner explained that it was too early to comment on numbers and their impact overall; Medway had only started very recently. However, the Thanet scheme had seen a number of people receiving the right care and whereas in the past, the police response might have resulted in a double crewed car attending followed by a mental health nurse, it’s now one officer and the nurse attending at the same time. He added that arguably it had therefore allowed the police response to mental health incidents to reduce slightly, but it remained too early to comment in more detail.


8.    Responding to questions regarding when a more detailed progress update could be provided, the Commissioner explained that a significant part of his and Force’s initial work around mental health was scoping the full impact on the service and how other factors may affect police demand and appropriate response plans.  He explained that monitoring reports were expected at the end of 2017, noting that it was likely that the monitoring would show that many other organisations were now benefiting from the new approaches which he hoped would support future partnership working.  The Commissioner recognised that previous street triage programmes had been tried and discontinued but suggested that monitoring data could be published in the future.  He explained that his Mental Health and Policing Board would be the venue for ongoing scrutiny of this topic.


9.    The Commissioner advised the Panel that while there had been an increase in funding from government for mental health, he was not confident that it had previously been spent on the right things in the right places; notably the frontline had not been sufficiently resourced.  He highlighted that this had definitely had an impact on police demand as the Force had been picking up work that should have been done by mental health focused services.  He explained that he was hoping to address this issue, in part through his role as deputy lead for mental health at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC).  The Commissioner also highlighted how he is holding the CCGs and other partners to account for delivering their core work so that it does not unfairly impact on the police, noting the importance of the Funding Score Cards which have to be published by CCGs, which allow assessment of whether important services are in fact being commissioned.  The Commissioner noted an example of the good work that has arisen from these assessments, such as additional help for victims of child sexual assault, which the previous Commissioner, Ann Barnes, had funded.  The Commissioner explained that while this was not really for Commissioners to fund, it was important and valuable work that may not happen without PCC funding, so he had continued to provide support, including securing funding from the CCGs to help reduce the waiting times for people requiring this type of support.


RESOLVED that the Commissioner’s update on mental health be noted.