The International Centre for Mental Health Social Research is offering a PhD studentship on street triage to start in September 2015. With North Yorkshire Police and Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust we have obtained an ESRC studentship from the White Rose Social Science Doctoral Training Centre to conduct an evaluation of street triage in North Yorkshire.
Police officers report that a disproportionate amount of their time (anecdotally reported to us as 50 per cent) is spent in responding to incidents involving people with mental health problems. This is common throughout England and Wales, and the Government recognises that the police are not always best placed to respond to mental health crises.
In February 2014 the Government published the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat to improve the care provided to people in a mental health crisis. In York and North Yorkshire, many agencies including NHS Mental Health Trusts, North Yorkshire Police, and Clinical Commissioning Groups have declared their commitment to implement the Concordat.
One initiative which has been introduced to improve mental health crisis care is street triage. This involves mental health professionals advising police officers on, or accompanying them to, incidents where police believe people require immediate mental health care and support. The Government has invested £25m to pilot street triage in locations across the country and in North Yorkshire schemes are currently in operation in Scarborough, York and Selby. Street triage in Leeds, for example, is producing early evidence that the use of police powers under s.136 Mental Health Act 1983 to remove someone who appears to be suffering from a mental disorder to a place of safety has been reduced by 22 per cent.
Street triage is yet to be thoroughly evaluated, though pilot sites are collecting and reporting data to the Department of Health. This project builds upon our evaluation of the Scarborough street triage service to extend our knowledge of the process and outcomes of street triage to inform its development both locally and nationally. It has three specific objectives:
- To calculate the proportion of police time spent with people with mental health problems and to understand the nature of these incidents.
- To evaluate three, six and twelve month outcomes of people who have used street triage services in terms of their contact with police, criminal justice system and mental health services.
- To understand the processes and mechanisms of street triage which contribute to both short and long term outcomes.
If you are interested in making an application for this studentship, further information is available here. The deadline for applications is Friday 20th March.