Street Triage

Since December 2013, Thames Valley Police (TVP) in partnership with Oxford Health have been running a Street Triage pilot.

TVP is one of 9 Forces funded by the Department of Health to undertake a year-long project in Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire Street Triage Project Board Terms of Reference (June 2014) (PDF), along with a Memorandum Of Understanding (PDF)

Street triage refers to a service where clinical mental health professionals accompany or assist police at mental health related incidents. The aim is to improve the overall experience and access to appropriate care pathways for persons with mental ill health who present to the police in a “crisis” state.

The pilot will end in December 2014 when a period of evaluation will commence. Any future operation of the service will then need to be funded by Oxfordshire CCG if it is to continue.

There is now considerable interest in the pilot across different localities in Thames Valley due to awareness raised by the Street Triage Conference 4 July 2014 and the Crisis Care Concordat on 17 September 2014.

The current service operates 7 days a week from 6pm to 2am with a mental health practitioner (MHP) working alongside a police officer. The MHP is available to deploy with the police officer to incidents within Oxford City and can provide advice by phone to any officers in other areas of Oxfordshire who are presented with an incident involving apparent mental ill health.

Outside of the hours of 6pm – 2am, there is a single telephone point of contact at Oxford Health available as an advice line for county wide police. The Operational Policy – Street Triage Operating Policy (June 2014) (PDF)

Key benefits of the pilot:

To improve the experience and outcomes for service users

  • 78% reduction in the use of police custody cells as a Place of Safety
  • 50% fewer patients are release from s.136 without an onward mental health referral suggesting more appropriate use of police powers
  • 73% patients are remaining in services after 2 weeks suggesting improved engagement reducing risk through earlier intervention
  • Service users who have responded to a survey have reported that they felt listened to, their issues were taken seriously and that they were treated with courtesy and respect.
  • Early intervention and the link back to primary care reducing the risk of suicide and self-harm

Reduction in s.136 detentions

  • 20% reduction in s.136 detentions in Oxfordshire
  • At least 81 s.136 detentions have been averted by the triage team – finding more appropriate pathways and avoiding unnecessary distress
  • Early intervention has resulted in a 44% reduction in repeat s.136 detentions

Reduction in time/cost

  • 20% reduction in calls for Mental Health Act assessments means a reduced demand on AMHP and Section 12 Doctors
  • Increase capacity / better utilisation of S136 suites (preventing unnecessary custody detentions) and hospital admissions
  • A higher proportion of patients are being referred to community mental health services, relieving pressure on acute beds

Further information can be found by contacting Inspector Jan Penny –

Here is the latest analysis from August 2014: August Triage Presentation (PDF)