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Criminal Justice

Innovative work on mental health by PCCs highlighted in new briefing

With an estimated 20-40% of police time spent on mental health related incidents, a new briefing by charity Revolving Doors Agency  highlights promising work by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to improve responses for people facing mental health problems.


One in four people experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. While many will have limited contact with the police, it is also true that much of the demand on police resources is linked to mental health related incidents, and a significant proportion of the offending population experience poor mental health.  Research suggests 72% of prisoners face two or more mental health problems.


Published during Mental Health Awareness Week, the briefing is the second in a series of ‘PCC spotlights’ by Revolving Doors Agency and the Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A), designed to highlight promising practice among PCCs which could be replicated in other areas.  It argues that PCCs are in an important position locally to bring key strategic partners together and improve responses, and highlights areas of promising practice including:


Greater Manchester – where the PCC is leading improved partnership working through the Greater Manchester Strategic Mental Health Partnership board, including access to a 24/7 mental health ‘triage’ phone advice service; plans for improved coordination of follow-on support through a Navigation Pathways programme; and the rollout of a successful approach that works intensively with clients who repeatedly use crisis services.


Norfolk – Where the PCC has funded a comprehensive offender health profile, including a focus on mental health, which identified key issues and gaps in provision. This has led to the establishment of an offender health focused group on the Health and Wellbeing Board to improve integration of commissioning, and a focus on improved pathways for female offenders with personality disorders.


Staffordshire – Where the PCC conducted research to understand the level of demand mental health incidents place on the police, and has reviewed strategic partnership arrangements to develop new governance structures and hold partners to account more effectively.


While most PCCs are now prioritising mental health, the briefing highlights some common themes that should be part of plans including: providing strategic leadership and co-ordination; intervening earlier to prevent crisis; and reducing repeat demand through pathways into holistic and tailored support for people facing multiple and complex needs.   With the election of a majority Conservative government confirming that PCCs will remain a fixture in the local landscape, there is much to learn from how the first generation of PCCs have approached these challenging partnership issues, and used their role to help improve responses in their area.    


‘PCC spotlights’ are being produced as part of the First Generation Project, and are available online here.  The First Generation Project aims to raise awareness of the problems faced by repeat offenders with complex needs and young adults in contact with the criminal justice system, highlighting evidence of promising practice and effective solutions, and working directly with PCCs and their staff to help implement these solutions.   Read the briefing here.