Cutting Edge Police And Mental Health Project Launches To Help Those In Need, Wakefield

Monday December 7, 2020

Specially trained police officers have joined forces with NHS mental health colleagues in a cutting-edge project to try and stop those in need from spiralling into crisis and potentially crime.

Dedicated officers from a new Wakefield Police team are now working hand in hand with nursing staff from South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust (SWYPFT) to support a small number of identified persons who often come to police and mental health services attention when needing help most.

The new Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) team is the first of its kind in West Yorkshire, and it is hoped the enhanced support provided to a small number of people at a critical state will have a big impact on improving mental  health and in reducing overall calls for service to the force.

As part of SIM, police officers work with trust nursing staff to build relationships with a small group of known service users and put in place personalised care plans for them, to help the police and partner agencies know how to respond when they are nearing crisis.

The team supports each patient to help them better understand their crises and also identify healthier and safer ways to cope.

In the most intensive, harmful or impactive cases, the team also does everything it can to prevent the need for criminal justice intervention.

SIM itself has been in operation in other parts of the country and was developed to help better utilise some of the unique skills which police officers possess in providing support to persons and in trying to prevent crime.

Inspector Richard Clare of Wakefield District Police, said: “We already work very closely with our partners at SWYPFT to support those with mental health needs and are really pleased to be collaborating on this new scheme.

“Within Wakefield Police we find that a high proportion of our mental health related calls for service involve a relatively small number of people so we fully support any initiative which can help those people who need more support receive it.

“The extra training provided to our dedicated officers will help them build a closer understanding of the needs of these service users and allow them to engage more positively with them at crucial times.

“A Section 136 detention for a person entering crisis really should be the absolute last resort, and we believe SIM will make an impact in preventing persons from needing this sort of intervention.”

Steph Gibson, a mental health nurse and SIM Practitioner at SWYPFT, said: “Our SIM team provide support for people who may take part in high risk behaviour and also need support from other public section agencies, such as the police, when they are in crisis.

“We are really passionate about the scheme as it gives us a way to help service users access the services they need in a way that is tailored to them and suits their needs.”

The SIM practitioner said the mix of specialist skills which police officers and mental health nurses could offer was really important in providing the personalised ‘wraparound’ care at an early stage which persons nearing crisis could need.

“If we can help them access the right kinds of support early we can help divert them away from crisis presentations,” she added.  “The whole ethos of it is helping people to manage their lives more effectively and live positively in their communities.”


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