Police to save 1 million officer hours with new mental health approach
Right Care Right Person to be adopted by forces in England and Wales as toolkit and national partnership agreement launched.
As a national partnership agreement is today (26 July 2023) signed, police forces across England will begin rolling out a new approach to dealing with health incidents where policing is not always the best agency to respond.
While some mental health incidents do require police attendance, there are a significant number which involve no safety risk or crime.
The new approach will mean police stop attending a lot of health incidents, unless there is a significant safety risk or crime being committed, and instead refer these to the appropriate partner agency.
Where police officers do take a person in a mental health crisis to hospital under the Mental Health Act, the agreement emphasises the need for local partners to work towards handovers happening in one hour.
Estimates show that implementing the principles of Right Care Right Person could save around one million police officer hours each year.
A national toolkit has been developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing to support police forces in implementing Right Care Right Person, which will see vulnerable people receiving the specialist health support they need.
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ Mental Health Lead, Lisa Townsend, said:
“The National Partnership Agreement represents a vital first step to ensuring vulnerable people receive the right care from the right person.
“For too long, we have seen the police step up to respond to non-emergency mental health calls, often spending long periods of time with people when what they really need is specialist medical support. The police are not medical professionals, and we should not expect them to be.
“This is why we have launched this new partnership agreement. Moving forward, Police and Crime Commissioners will work closely with cross-government colleagues, police, health and social care partners to ensure vulnerable people receive the necessary support, whilst at the same time freeing up police resources to tackle crime and deliver safer communities for the public."
Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Donna Jones, said:
“The roll out of Right Care Right Person is a crucial step in ensuring vulnerable people receive the right response from the most appropriate agency.
“I want to reassure the public the police will continue to attend incidents where there is a significant safety risk, or where a crime is being committed. What they will not do is spend hours on end waiting with patients in hospital or conducting welfare checks that should be carried out by a healthcare professional. This will not only save an estimated million hours of police time, but it will also ensure those who need specialist help get the best care for their needs.
“As Police and Crime Commissioners it is our job to ensure the police are utilising resources appropriately and ensuring the public receive the best possible service. Locally, PCCs will work with partners to ensure the effective implementation of this model and its continuous review.
“I want to thank our national policing and health colleagues, through effective partnership working we can ensure those in crisis receive the most appropriate support whilst freeing up hours of police time to fight crime and keep our communities safe.”
The Right Care Right Person approach is based on a model developed by Humberside Police in 2021 which has also been implemented by other forces including Lancashire Police, South Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Police.
Police forces across England and Wales will begin implementing Right Care Right Person following the toolkit produced by the College of Policing and National Police Chiefs’ Council. Each force will develop a bespoke implementation plan and work with local partner agencies to embed the approach.
The national partnership agreement is in place for England. However, forces in Wales continue to work closely with Welsh Government and partners to achieve the principles set out in Right Care, Right Person.