Cambridgeshire Constabulary has begun implementing a new initiative to better deal with the high number of mental health calls they receive.

Developed in close collaboration with health partners,  Right Care, Right Person is a model designed to ensure that when there are concerns for a person’s welfare linked to mental health, medical or social care issues, the right person with the right skills, training and experience will respond. 

In recent years, police officers have often been required to offer support to those who really require specialist medical or psychological care. 

Under Right Care, Right Person, officers will no longer be taking on this responsibility when it is not appropriate to do so. 

Indeed, police intervention can sometimes have a detrimental effect on vulnerable patients who feel they are being criminalised because of their health or social care issues. 

The care will now be provided by the agency that can best meet the individual’s needs. 

Similar schemes have already been successfully adopted by forces in Humberside, Lincolnshire and Hampshire. 

Assistant chief constable Vicki Evans said: “Protecting the vulnerable and keeping people safe is at the heart of everything we do. However, all too often, police officers are dealing with situations that could be better handled by other, more appropriate agencies. 

“This includes people being in mental health crisis, who need the help and support of professionals and not the skills of a police officer. This type of demand is ever increasing with one in five calls we receive is mental health related."

She added: “The Right Care, Right Person initiative is about giving people the right support when they need it, from the right agency.

"It is supported by central government including the Home Office and Department of Health and Social Care and the policy has been recognised by the College of Policing and the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) as good practice."

Partners across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are working together closely to plan implementation of this initiative and aim to introduce it towards the end of the year in a planned and phased approach. 

“We want to ensure vulnerable people receive the necessary support, whilst at the same time freeing up police resources to tackle crime and deliver safer communities for the public," said Vicki.

“Policing will always have a role with people suffering mental ill health, but we cannot bridge the gap in service provision of other agencies.

"This is not a sustainable position or one which is good patients. Being dealt with by the police can have a detrimental impact on vulnerable people.” 

The threshold for police intervention will be: 

  • There is an immediate risk to life or serious harm to an identified person.  
  • Immediate harm – it is obvious to the police that there is a risk to life presently, at this moment or in the immediate future, or has already occurred. 
  • Serious harm – there is a risk of significant harm to the person concerned, this can be physical harm, serious neglect issues, significant mental health symptoms, all of which would amount to the suffering of potential significant injuries or psychological harm. 

CEO at the College of Policing, Chief Constable Andy Marsh, said: “The public want police catching criminals and protecting them from harm.

"Attending mental health calls is not always appropriate and these changes will strike a better balance so that the public receives the service they want. 

“Police are not trained mental health professionals and the new toolkit will triage incoming calls to police so that the public receives the best response.

"The toolkit is unique in policing and will offer support and guidance to call handlers when managing mental health, concerns for welfare and missing persons."