Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Working in partnership with the police to make sure people get the treatment they need

  • Comment

Christine Lockwood, Interim General Manager for Acute Services in East Sussex, working as part of a nursing team at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, was nominated for her involvement in creating a street triage service in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in partnership with Sussex Police.

Sussex was the first of four pilot sites to be selected by the Home Office and Department of Health to run a Street Triage scheme, whereby mental health nurses, as part of the triage team, accompany police officers to incidents where people need immediate mental health support to ensure people with mental health issues are kept out of police custody and receive the right treatment and care.

Experience matters

Although Christine works as a general manager, she has many years of experience in working as a Mental Health Nurse in Acute and Crisis Mental Health services.

The trust took the decision to use the acute services to develop the initiative, rather than forensic services, and Christine seized the opportunity to help people in acute mental distress by drawing on her own knowledge and experience and the skills developed by nurses working in acute mental health care; that of risk assessment, quick and decisive assessments and positive risk taking and having the courage to take calculated risks.

Christine instinctively knew that the success of Street Triage would be down to the team developing good relations with police colleagues. With this in mind, she decided not to be too ‘directive’ in designing the service, but let it develop more fluidly as the two agencies worked closer together. She continues to have a very visible nursing leadership presence on the pilot scheme and has worked several shifts with the Street Triage team, demonstrating her commitment to caring for people with potentially serious mental health conditions with compassion.  

The presentation here details the journey in more detail.

Improved outcomes

The Street Triage team has significantly reduced the number of people being detained in custody under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act in the time the pilot has been running. The police use this section to take someone to a place of safety when they are in a public place, if they think they have a mental illness and are in need of care. This has improved outcomes for patients and their carers by directing them into the most appropriate service for them, demonstrating care and competence.

As nurses and police officers have worked together, they have built a mutual respect and understanding of each other’s roles, which has challenged the stereotyped views they previously held about each other. It is these relationships that have made this team work and they have developed a supportive shared approach to working with people in distress based on this learning (communication).

Barbara Vincent, nurse consultant in Dementia and Later Life Services at the trust said: “What Christine brings to her management role is her understanding and compassion as a mental health nurse to inform the provision of services that meet people’s needs in crisis.” 

Marie Batey, Head of Acute and Lead for Compassion in Practice added: “Providing truly integrated care means working in a mutually beneficial way with other agencies. Christine and her team are doing this, showing that, with commitment and compassion for people in need of help, this ‘joined-up’ approach to care can create positive outcomes. By going out on the beat with colleagues at Sussex Police they are able to help people, who might otherwise have ended up in custody, receive appropriate care and access to mental health services.”

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.