National framework launched on Right Care, Right Person

A new National Partnership Agreement (NPA) between policing, health and other agencies sets out the principles around the Right Care, Right Person approach which aims to ensure that individuals in mental health crisis are seen by the right professional. The NPA was signed by the police, government and NHS England and sets a collective commitment to end the “inappropriate and avoidable” involvement of police in responding to incidents involving people with mental health needs.

The strategic approach set out in the Right Care, Right Person document provides a framework for supporting police with decision-making about when they should be involved in responding to reported incidents involving people with mental health needs.

The threshold for a police response to a mental health-related incident (such as via a call made to the police) is:

  • to investigate a crime that has occurred or is occurring; or
  • to protect people, when there is a real and immediate risk to the life of a person, or of a person being subject to or at risk of serious harm

However, it is important to distinguish this from the police’s powers under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. So, while the decision to attend an incident is determined by assessing that the incident meets the Right Care, Right Person threshold, the decision to use powers under the Mental Health Act, is made by an officer at the scene of an incident. Partnership arrangements governing police involvement at pre-planned interventions will continue to be managed at a local level, such as police attendance at section 135 Mental Health Act warrants.

The policy paper emphasises that:

  • there must be a focus on ensuring patient safety is maintained and people in mental health crisis are not left without support; and
  • implementation should be designed with due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty. Ten areas are set out for cross agency partnerships to work together to achieve

There is national support for implementation of this new framework with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing currently developing a national toolkit, covering decision-making in relation to the new threshold for police response, partnership working, training requirements, and data standards and evaluation. In addition, NHS England are working on co-producing guidance with multi-agency professionals and people with lived experience of mental health problems on how to improve inter-agency working within the mental health pathway.

We can expect to see evaluation of the rollout of the Right Care, Right Person approach for people with mental health needs together with findings from good practice from local partnerships across the country.

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