Nurses and police in Cambridgeshire team up with mental health response cars

  • ITV News Anglia's Stuart Leithes went out on a call with a mental health response car

A new mental health response scheme has been launched in Cambridgeshire, with the aim of reducing the number of people needing to be sent to hospital or be sectioned.

Nurses from the county's mental health trust will ride alongside police officers in specialist response cars under the programme.

They will provide expert medical support to people struggling with their mental health and be able to refer them, in under an hour, for further help.

The scheme was trialled last year in a pilot project. It found that specialist support helped to calm situations and helped police avoid using their powers to detain people or send them to hospital.

Organisers say it also means police officers can spend less time on each callout, freeing them up to respond to other crimes.

The first response cars have dealt with 50 incidents a month. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Jamie Secker, a service manager at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust, said: “Many incidents that police get called out to involve someone with a mental health issue, so to have our practitioners working alongside frontline officers is a very welcome move.

“Our staff can offer instant expert support to someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Having a nurse who knows what to do often puts people at ease when they’re feeling at their most vulnerable."

Det Insp Dan Cooper said: “When people are experiencing a mental health crisis, they need specialist care as soon as possible. This scheme allows that to happen and also helps to free up vital policing resource.

“The mental health practitioners have been invaluable during the pilot scheme. Without them on hand, often officers would have to either take the person in crisis to A&E and wait with them or use policing powers to section the person."

The response cars are on patrol from 3-11pm, Sunday to Thursday and 5pm-1am Friday to Saturday.