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Pilot project will aim to support vulnerable and reduce demand on public services

PUBLISHED: 16:59 06 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:00 06 September 2019

A new two-year pilot project has been launched by Suffolk police and the region's mental health trust Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

A new two-year pilot project has been launched by Suffolk police and the region's mental health trust Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

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A pilot project aimed at reducing demand on emergency and health services by providing extra support to vulnerable people has been launched by police and the region's mental health trust.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPolice and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk police is collaborating with mental health professionals from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to support people who officers regularly encounter due to mental health issues.

The integrated project will see two high intensity liaison officers appointed to help ensure a coordinated approach between police, mental health services and other agencies.

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Police and the mental health trust hope the two-year project will produce a positive reduction in repeat 999 calls as well as fewer hospital admissions.

Inspector Richard Hill, from Suffolk Constabulary, said: "This pilot will provide much needed support for those Suffolk residents whose illness impacts disproportionally on public services with the aim of reducing demand on emergency and health services. It will ensure an integrated approach to supporting those most in need."

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The two-year pilot is being funded by the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the police and a grant from the Transformation Challenge Award and is a programme that has been replicated elsewhere in the country.

Both posts are civilian and one post will operate from the west of the county, while the second will work in the east.

Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), said: "This initiative is a great opportunity for us to work more closely with our police colleagues to help vulnerable service users to better understand their behaviour and find ways to manage more effectively when they are facing a crisis."

Dr John Hague, a GP in Ipswich and mental health lead for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "It is important we do all we can to support those people who are living with mental health issues and I am particularly pleased to see the introduction of this new project.

"Not only will it provide a personal and more appropriate and effective support mechanism for those vulnerable people, it will also, by better meeting their needs, reduce the level of interactions they have with police and health and care services, meaning those services can better focus on the needs of others.

"The project is another really good example of how our public sector organisations are working together in a joined-up way for the benefit of our communities."

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Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, said: "Supporting the most vulnerable in our communities falls to many different agencies so it is crucial that we all work together.

"I fully support this partnership working, anything that helps improve public service and lessens the demand on our frontline police officers by reducing repeat use of mental health legislation and 999 calls has my blessing.

"Reducing demand is key to an efficient and effective police force and our officers need support from health professionals to ensure the vulnerable are cared for, this will also enable our officers to focus on policing.

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