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A partnership between Bedfordshire Police and mental health services, which has supported thousands of people in the county, has been shortlisted for an award as it marks its second anniversary.

The mental health hub partnership between Bedfordshire Police, mental health service providers the East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) and other key partners provides support for those experiencing a mental health crisis.

Launched in 2019, the hub provides specialist joint resources including its Mental Health Street Triage team, two full time mental health professionals based in Bedfordshire Police’s control room for support, advice and intervention, and other support services.

This year the team has been shortlisted for the Howard League Community Award for the support they have given to vulnerable people.

The Mental Health Street Triage team gives immediate support to people in crisis as well as providing people with appropriate signposting. Each month the team supports more than 150 members of the public.

As a result of having a specialist mental health advisor in the force contact centre, from October 2020 to March 2021 there were 1,230 incidents referred.

The police said 299 deployments were avoided due to the appropriate mental health support being in place. So ensuring that officers could continue with other priorities.

Inspector Ed Finn said:

“The last year has been challenging for all of us and we have seen an increase in mental health crisis related calls to Bedfordshire Police.

“The partnership work in the mental health hub has been vital to dealing with this and has enabled us to manage this demand whilst ensuring that people in crisis get the most appropriate support.

“This often means not sending a police officer, but instead working with our partners to ensure they get support from mental health services.

“In the last two years, with our team in place, we have seen a number of improvements to the police response to these types of calls and we have also seen a reduction in use of police time when dealing with mental health related incidents.

“For us it is important to see a reduction in inappropriate demand for officers, but to also improve the overall experience for service users.

“Each mental health related incident is different, so there is not a one size fits all approach. By triaging, we can get individuals the right support they need at their time of crisis.”

The East London NHS Foundation Trust runs NHS mental health services across Luton and Bedfordshire. You can find out more about their services via their website.

Health services in Bedfordshire have also published a series of self-help guides around issues that may affect your mental health. You can read these online.

Mental health crisis support for all ages is available 24 hours a day every day across Bedfordshire and Luton by contacting NHS 111 (option 2) or the Samaritans on 116 123 (freephone) or by emailing jo@samaritans.org.

The Samaritans has also published guidance to around how you might help someone you are worried about, which is available to view on their website