The role is an innovative and unique post with the aim to take a proactive approach, and establish improved working practices between the Police and Mental Health Services provided by NTW. This includes engaging with both Northumbria Police and British Transport Police, and other Police Forces locally and nationally. It is a unique dedicated role, with an experienced mental health nurse working in a working with police to review practices, being proactive, reflective and encouraging learning to overall enhance the service to those in contact with the police and who are already in receipt of mental health services.
What We Did
From September 2014 Claire Andre has been the Clinical Police Liaison Lead, based within the trust’s safety team. The role is an innovative and unique post with the aim to take a proactive approach, and establish improved working practices between the Police and Mental Health Services provided by NTW. This includes engaging with both Northumbria Police and British Transport Police, and other Police Forces locally and nationally. It is a unique dedicated role, with an experienced mental health nurse working in a working with police to review practices, being proactive, reflective and encouraging learning to overall enhance the service to those in contact with the police and who are already in receipt of mental health services. Claire is trusted and knowledgeable and hence provides the Police with a central liaison point around developments affecting services, clinical concerns/issues, and advice for Police Officers on complex clinical issues.
Areas of achievement and developments include:
Enhanced Relationships within agencies to problem solve and work together effectively. Communication channels are transparent and enhanced from the frontline to senior management teams; Training & Awareness raising on mental health with Police Officers has begun and will continue. It involves service users telling their stories and experiences with Police; Student Police officer placements occur within teams and wards and there is an established Mental Health input into their programme; Multi-agency Practice reference guide is completed to assist staff to understand the liaison issues in complex systems, agencies roles and responsibilities are explained in an easy to read way; Joint Policy development on Missing People – looking at new ways to improve a timely response and information sharing between agencies to reduce risk to those vulnerable people and ensure they get the support required; Clinical/Police support on incidents and incident reviews – signposting in each other’s organisations; Support and education to NHS Security Managers across the North East in acute Trust’s where mental health is an increasing issue. Claire has excellent relationships with all the hospital liaison officers, the street triage team and at senior levels in Northumbria Police & British Transport Police .
This assists in working towards a single goal and improving our partnership working, this has been received positively by senior Police Officers in Northumbria Police, and is currently attracting national attention.
Claire been supporting the implementation of the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat and has developed links not only with the Police but also the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), Local authorities in all 6 areas, Durham & Cleveland Police, Tyneside Mind and Changing Lives. These organisation often contact Claire for advice and support, and joint working on matters relating to the Police and Mental Health. She has been contacted by other areas locally and nationally for advice. Claire is always willing to help and support if it improves things for patients, families and carers as this has always been her primary focus in the role. One of the first areas she reviewed on commencement of the role was the pre-existing governance structures. This led to the improved structure of the Police & Partners Liaison groups across NTW & Northumbria Police, which are standardised and feed into the overarching group; the Senior Police & Partners Group. These locality groups address new policies, practice and any concerns or good practice.
Claire has also established links with other areas in the UK, using the medium of social media. She has promoted NTW and Northumbria Police and has an established a following of Police, health staff and service users alike who report they find her tweets interesting and informative. It has also assisted in gathering information on projects and sharing good practice with and from other areas in the UK. She work closely with Inspector Michael Brown in the College of Policing and is getting involved in national development work with him.
She is the Joint National Lead for the Positive Practice MH Collaborative on all matters relating to mental health, Emergency services and Criminal justice system, alongside a Police officer from Devon & Cornwell Police. She has spoken with MPs in parliament and worked closely with NHS England in hosting an event. She is passionate about this area and eager to improve the experiences of service users not just locally but nationally.
The important aspect of this role was to position it in the central Safety Team that has improvements to quality and safety of care at its heart, as a support function to clinical services, this new role complements a range of activities that this team carries out within the Trust to improve the outcomes for patients, families and carers. Due to the nursing experience Claire brings to the role, its gives the Police Liaison role the clinical and patient focus, it has needed. She can offer support to clinical teams and police with this viewpoint. This means she can offer a clinical insight assisting in incident reviews where the Police are involved. It also ensures education is delivered to NTW staff on working with the Police and, to the Police on mental health services and working with patients. Thus improving services and experiences for those with mental health conditions. Claire is always aware of national developments and standards and the rights of those in contact with the Police. Claire has met with the Service User Governor in the trust about her role and the work she is doing.
Claire has worked closely with Fulfilling Lives Expert by Experience members alongside other agencies to develop an innovative multi-agency simulation training, working closely to ensure that the heart and focus of the training is improving the service user experience. The experts have been involved in the development, design and facilitation of the training. Claire has worked closely with a number of service users to assist them telling their story on camera to be part of Northumbria Police officers training. She is always eager to involve service users in her work and developments. As part of her role she has supported services users to share information with Police officers in relation to themselves, so officers know what will work best for them when they are in contact with Police.
Looking Back/Challenges Faced
We didn’t realise how quickly people would value the work that Claire does and how much Police & other services wanted this support and a single point of contact to assist with matters. There was much proactive work required and part of it was prioritising areas. From the beginning an action plan was development but many targets that were set had to be reprioritised based on local or national need. It took time to build relationships, trust and understanding of roles and responsibilities this was a large part of the early stages, part of what would have gone better is that Claire spent time working alongside the Police on shifts to see first-hand the issues, concerns and the contact with those with a mental health condition to understand how to improve things.
The first area Claire had to work on was to establish the links and build relationships with Northumbria Police & British Transport Police, establishing credibility and trust. This was about visiting many officers in Police stations promoting her role and what can be achieved by this, working closely with the area command leads, and liaison officers. Assisting in areas they needed help to ensure that the role was useful. The second part was promoting the role in NTW and reaching out and making links to services who had not known Claire clinically and who would have most contact with the Police. Staff needed to understand the role and how it can be of use to them and this was about taking on small and achievable areas of work and reviews and demonstrating effectiveness to staff in delivery and support.
The role is a delicate balance of not being seen to be too much with the police or health but sitting in the middle with ‘a foot in either camp’. In Claire’s view this is alongside the patient providing the support needed to improve experiences for them. It has to be recognised it will not be quick or a easy win but one that we are seeing difference in areas, and it is important that this work is sustained, as the changes in both mental health services and the police and the pressure that both systems are under mean there may be constant development work required.
If the role is to remain it is essential that Claire keeps abreast of current issues affecting Mental Health and Policing and the links with National agendas. The organisation as it goes through its transformation agenda, also understands the impact of mental health services being provided in the community and the impact this can have on modern day policing. It’s about gathering that information and sharing it with others, educating and learning. All information on the work is kept in a central drive for the safety team. Claire works closely with the other team members. There are contact sheets with all police & other contacts and this means this would be picked up and they could be contacted by another person if the role was taken over. There would undoubtedly need to be a handover and it would be about building relationships again as this is a large element to the role.
There has not been a formal evaluation, but Claire recently asked officers to provide feedback on the role as part of a presentation at the College of Policing. Some of the feedback is as follows:
“I believe your role is the one that has made all the difference. Having a point of contact to work between the different groups and keeping everyone focused and on track, scanning nationally for best practice and then disseminating between all parties and ensuring we all have a clear understanding of our own unique fields of expertise and what we can bring to the partnership has been vital to the success. Although the role is vitally important so is making sure that the right person is in the role. Motivation, enthusiasm, communication and interpersonal skills, striving for excellence and not being afraid to challenge – everything you possess in abundance.”
C/Supt Northumbria Police – “It was really refreshing to speak to a trained mental health nurse who had a clear understanding of the workings of the Trust, mental health matters but equally importantly had a built up a good understanding of Police powers, policies and procedures. This meant that between us we could deal with and overcome issues raised by both Police Officers and Nursing staff and led to more successful and speedier resolution of those issues.”
Inspector Northumbria Police – “As you know I am in awe of your role as well as your knowledge and experience being applied to working with the police, ultimately to improve patient experience, as well as reducing unnecessary demand on the police service along with the stress caused to police officers dealing with mental health related incidents more and more. This has been done through liaison, awareness raising, training and simply being there to support and offer advice. I have to stress that I believe personal attributes have played a large part in your effectiveness however, and this cannot be underestimated in any of us trying to “duplicate”.
MH Lead Durham Police – “It has really improved liaison and closer working relationships between police and mental health services and has improved service delivery in what could have previously been a difficult, time consuming and frustrating experience for everyone concerned. This could not have happened without the CPLL role as you have been able to ensure that agencies have an understanding of each others’ roles and what they can and cannot do which previously would not have happened.”
Inspector Northumbria Police – Before you were in role I had a hard time getting anyone to communicate with me. I know we (Police) can be similarly bad at that but it was very frustrating. Then when you got the role it started to open doors up and things really got moving. Without this the BTP unique demands and specialities (which will be different from the local HO force) would not have been recognised and taken into account when producing local strategy and procedures. An example was speaking with BTP about the introduction of street triage in Newcastle. You have kept me informed of CCC developments and invited opinion which does make me feel valued.
Sergeant British Transport Police – “She just knows the answer to any question I ask….”
Claire is the Joint Lead for the National MH and Emergency Services Special Interest Group of the Positive Practice in MH Collaborative (PPiMH).