In the first project of its kind in the country a local care trust is supporting members of its staff to undertake police training.
Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police, is supporting six of its staff to be trained as special police officers and go out on patrol with regular officers to improve the care of individuals in mental health crisis.
Special officers are fully trained volunteers that provide a valuable link between the police and the local community. They have the same powers as regular police officers but work in their free time on a variety of police duties.
Debra Gilderdale, Interim Director of Nursing at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a very exciting project and we are looking forward to working in partnership with West Yorkshire police at this level.
“Being fully integrated as members of the police teams our staff are able to use their mental health expertise to make sure that individuals, who may be in mental health crisis, are managed and looked after in the most effective and dignified way.
“Having trained mental health staff dealing with these situations could help stop an unnecessary arrest which is much less upsetting and confusing for the individual and also frees up some of the police’s time.”
Inspector Michael Bonner, of Bradford District Police, said: “This initiative aims to reduce the demand on the police from mental health related crises and provides a uniformed and mental health trained presence to deal with vulnerable people professionally and efficiently.”
Staff will work, using their mental health backgrounds and their new police skills, in various areas including; street triage, hospital liaison, attending calls in the community that may be linked to mental health and working with staff on hospital wards.
Neil Buckingham, senior advanced nurse practitioner at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, who has trained as a special police officer, said “This opportunity has lots of benefits for our local community as it will allow us to improve the knowledge and skills of dealing with mental illness with our partner organisations and to make sure that both people’s mental and physical health are looked after in the safest and most effective way.”
The trained special constables will receive their warrant cards at an attestation event in December, when they will begin their work with the police at allocated stations across the district.
It is envisaged that a further Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust staff will complete the employer supported policing programme next year.