Police in Edinburgh are to get more access to trained mental health professionals as new pilot launches.
The pilot, Edinburgh Community Triage Service, launches today Friday 14 August 2015, and over each weekend throughout the next 12 months. It will see Police Scotland working in partnership with NHS Lothian allowing officers access to trained professionals who can provide valuable advice on how to deal with a range of matters concerning mental health.
Based on models successfully established in other areas of the UK, mental health nurses working as part of the Mental Health Assessment Service (MHAS) will be available for a 12 months pilot.
The aim of the service is to provide police responding to incidents with local health service information to ensure individuals in mental health crisis are assessed as quickly and appropriately as possible.
Members of the public will benefit greatly from the scheme with those in need of specialist services being appropriately signposted to the agencies that can best assist them.
In addition, this approach will help reduce the stigma associated with a police detention or escort to a psychiatric facility.
Superintendent Liz McAinsh said:
This scheme gives our officers access to dedicated professionals whose knowledge of mental health considerations is invaluable.
The initiative has been shown to work well elsewhere and I expect officers and local communities in Edinburgh to benefit immensely from its use.
During this pilot any officer attending an incident involving someone with mental health issues will have improved access to fully-trained mental health nurses who will advise on the most appropriate course of action.
This will allow us to provide a higher quality of service to those in need of specialist assistance.
Kathleen Stewart, Nurse Consultant, NHS Lothian, said:
The Edinburgh Community Triage Service is designed to ensure individuals in mental health crisis who come to the attention of the police in the community are seen as quickly and as appropriately as possible.
It is hoped that this new way of working will also help reduce the stigma and criminalisation associated with detention in custody or police escort to a psychiatric hospital for assessment.