"It is vital that people with mental health issues receive the most appropriate care when they need it. Police officers are regularly called to incidents involving people who are in need of care and support, but often have no option other than to take them into police custody for their own and other people's safety. The street triage team means that they will receive immediate and appropriate help on the spot.”

Dave Jones, Chief Constable, North Yorkshire Police

About the service

When police attend an incident out of hours, and believe that an individual involved has a mental illness, learning disability or substance misuse problem, they contact the street triage team of mental health nurses to carry out an immediate assessment. This determines whether the person should be held under Section 136 of the MHA and if not, whether any follow up is needed from mental health, social or substance misuse services.

It means those people who do need care and treatment receive the right services quickly, and that those who don't are not unnecessarily detained under the Mental Health Act.

When street triage was developed in Middlesbrough in 2013 by Rob King, a serving police officer with Cleveland Police seconded to TEWV, it was the first scheme of its kind in this country. Its success led to nine other national pilots being launched and it has since been rolled out in other areas including North Yorkshire.

We have two street triage teams in the trust; one in Teesside working with Cleveland Police, and one in Scarborough working with North Yorkshire Police.

The service has been backed by the Home Office and has received national praise, including from the former Home Secretary, and now prime Minister, Theresa May. We have also had visitors from Police Scotland who are to develop services north of the border for the whole of Scotland based on our model, the Welsh Police forces and a mental health acute care team in Queensland Australia.  

“This is the best service we have encountered. Before this my son would have been arrested and taken to custody whereas following intervention by the street triage team he received the right care that resulted in him diverting from the criminal justice route.”

Parent whose 15 year old son was assessed by the street triage service

The Teesside service with Cleveland Police

The original pilot in Teesside was developed as part of the national liaison and diversion development programme. There were high numbers of people being brought to a place of safety (eg at a police station or hospital) under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act (MHA), who were later released as they weren’t mentally ill.

This doesn't mean that those people didn't need some level of intervention or support based on their situation, but using the place of safety as an intervention was not always proportionate nor did it meet their needs.

By using the street triage team to carry out an assessment, people could receive the care and treatment they needed straight away, without any unnecessary detention either in a police station or hospital.

In a ten month period before the street triage team was formed, 427 people were detained under section 136 of the MHA. In the first ten months of operation 294 people were seen by the street triage team, who would previously been detained under section 136 by the police, and only 12 of these resulted in detention under S136.

The service is available daily from 4pm until midnight.

Nurses from the street triage team are also providing mental health awareness training to Cleveland Police officers, to further equip them with a wider knowledge and understanding of mental illness.

The team also works closely with secondary mental health services, police, probation, social services, housing providers, benefits agency, citizens advice bureau, relate, Mind, improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) and many other support agencies to help prevent and reduce offending.

PC Martin Lindsley from Cleveland Polics said: “I have nothing but praise for the street triage scheme and consider it a vital support system for police officers dealing with often troubled and confused people.”

A dedicated mental health co-ordinator has recently spent time temporarily based in Cleveland Police’s control room as the Trust and the Force trial new ways of supporting people with mental ill health. Designed to reduce demand on police officers where mental health is an underlying factor in an incident, the trial also aimed to ensure victims received the most appropriate support during and after an incident. The co-ordinator assessed and evaluated incoming events or incidents involving people with mental ill health and, where appropriate, worked to resolve them without the need to involve police. Find out more here

The North Yorkshire service with North Yorkshire Police

Following a successful pilot in Cleveland and Leicester, the Home Secretary Theresa May pledged to roll out the service to four other areas of the country. Scarborough was chosen as one of those and subsequently the service was extended to York, Selby, Easingwold, Scarborough, Whitby, Filey and Ryedale.

The street triage teams work on the front line with North Yorkshire Police.

In the first four months of operation in Scarborough, the street triage team saw 162 people, who would previously have been detained, of which only 14 required detention under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

2016 saw the launch of a mental health triage pilot in the North Yorkshire Police control room. Following its success, the pilot became permanent and there are mental health nurses assisting control room staff, seven days a week. They help monitor calls and provide advice and support to staff and officers on the ground when they are interacting with a person in mental distress or crisis. For some people who have mental health difficulties, they may call the police frequently. Our nurses can often help in this situation by talking to them and referring them on to the right service.

Chief Constable at North Yorkshire Police, Dave Jones, said: "It is vital that people with mental health issues receive the most appropriate care when they need it." Police officers are regularly called to incidents involving people who are in need of care and support, but often have no option other than to take them into police custody for their own and other people's safety. The street triage project means that they will receive immediate and appropriate help on the spot.

Nicky Scott, North Yorkshire street triage team manager said: “Before street triage, the police were called to an incident and had to make an immediate decision about how to deal with a person with possible mental health issues. This meant a high number of people were brought to a police station or hospital under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act (MHA) but were later released as they were not mentally ill. It didn’t mean that they didn’t need some level of intervention or support but their needs were not being correctly assessed. Now we have this service, people can be seen, on the street, by mental health professionals rather than possibly been taken down the criminal justice route.”

Complementing the new street triage service in Scarborough is the Section 136 'place of safety' at Cross Lane Hospital. This is somewhere a person can be detained for up to 72 hours if they are in mental health crisis and it's believed they're in immediate need of care for the sake of their own, or another person's, safety. While detained in the place of safety, medical assessments take place and arrangements are made for treatment and care.

Working with North Yorkshire Police we also have established four health-based places of safety across York and North Yorkshire. They are in York, Scarborough, Harrogate and Northallerton. This means there are now more appropriate places where a person can be taken if they are detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act where they will receive the help and support the need from mental health professionals.  Find out more about mental health services with North Yorkshire Police here