In April 2016 Hampshire Constabulary launched its MILO (Mental iIl Health Liaison Officer) scheme. MILOS are a mix of police officers and police staff, and volunteers who have additional awareness, understanding and training in relation to mental health illnesses, well-being, and around signposting people to appropriate services, for example Occupational Health and the Employee Support line.
What We Did
In April 2016 Hampshire Constabulary launched its MILO (Mental iIl Health Liaison Officer) scheme. MILOS are a mix of police officers and police staff, and volunteers who have additional awareness, understanding and training in relation to mental health illnesses, well-being, and around signposting people to appropriate services, for example Occupational Health and the Employee Support line. Over the past 18 months the MILOs have benefitted from formal inputs from partner agencies on subjects including Autism, Dementia, Child and adolescent mental health awareness and the MIND Bluelight programme and additional training in relation to Police powers and procedures when dealing with spontaneous incidents relating to Mental Health.
Although the MILOs are not full-time experts in mental health, they know where to go for help within the force, partner agencies, and their local communities and can provide initial support to any member of staff who has personal problems with mental health – or any officers or staff who are dealing with a member of the public who needs some extra advice or support.
They also actively manage care plans which relate to members of the public who may repeatedly come to the attention of police and contain input from both medical partners and those responsible for their care. They are all advocates for mental health and well-being and will challenge negative stereotypes and stigma often associated with mental health problems and promotes an understanding amongst colleagues about the needs of those experiencing mental illness.
They actively encourage co-operation with the persons living with Mental illness, thereby increasing confidence in the police, and ultimately, enabling these members of the public to have faith in reporting crimes and incidents to the police, knowing that they will be supported. They also liaise with officers and staff, in order for them to encourage persons living with mental illness to have confidence in the police, and encourage the reporting of crimes and incidents from persons living with mental health problems.
There are currently 60 MILOs available to assist colleagues across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Wider Active Support
Close working relationships have been fostered with Southern Health and Solent NHS Trust both of whom delivered sessions at the two-day launch event in April 2016. The latter also was instrumental in designing and delivering the launch event content. The scheme covers both internal interactions but also interactions between Police/CJU/ NHS and other key partners in delivering MH services to the communities of Hampshire and the IOW.
Previous to this scheme there was limited knowledge among staff in relation to Mental Illnesses. This had a negative impact on those staff living with Mental illness as there wasn’t the support and understanding from colleagues and managers in relation to the challenges they were facing. There is now an increased awareness as to how to assist members of the public when they are involved in the Criminal Justice system.
There are a number of officers already providing Peer support to colleagues in relation to their mental well being and also examples where the training delivered has been used to support members of the public who are experiencing Mental Illness sites. There is regular feedback from the MILOS on cases dealt with and from this we are also identifying areas of demand and further training subject areas.
Looking Back/ Challenges Faced
The scheme started as a series of training events with no formal framework If started again I would start the scheme with a structured framework and clear Terms of reference so that it could grow slowly and demand could be managed.
The main challenge has been to formulate the offering of the scheme into a tangible product so that all staff and members of the public, who have contact with police, can benefit from this increase in knowledge and awareness that the MILOs have. This was overcome by setting clear boundaries for the role of the MILO, identifying minimum levels of training necessary before an individual can become a MILO and creating a process for the deployment and ongoing development of all MILOS.
The wider stigma attached to mental illness in general has been challenged and continues to be, but through education and by having advocates in the workplace across the whole organisation this is actively being addressed. The MILO scheme forms a strand in the Constabulary’s’ overall Wellbeing strategy.
The scheme has support from a number of senior leaders in the organisation and there are also a number of Lead Milos who manage daily workloads related to the scheme and support the MILOS in their work. The scheme also contributes to the wider Wellbeing strategy for the force so it is now an embedded scheme. All processes and procedures are documented and held centrally for ease of access with a number of staff aware and involved in its running
Since the launch we have been receiving feedback from the MILOS about the work completed but also from persons who have benefited from the support offered. There has been no formal assessment to date.
Approaches have been made by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service to understand the MILO scheme and how this could be replicated in that organisation. There is ongoing work with the shared Occupational Health unit to support this work. Other Police Services have also contacted Hampshire to further understand the MILO scheme and benefits it could bring.