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Background and aims

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust have collaborated with Northumbria police forces on mapping and redesigning crisis care pathways leading to Northumbria being one of the areas in the country with the lowest numbers of people detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.


The partnership considers that their success in safely reducing the use of Section 136 detentions is due to these key elements:

Systematic mapping of crisis care pathways

This involved the introduction of a single point of access, driven by the ambition to improve patient care in the community and reduce the reliance on inpatient beds. This has led to improved triage consistency and reduced time managing referrals for community teams.

Implementation of RESPOND multi-agency training

The RESPOND training allows different professionals in mental health crisis care to gain skills to handle crisis situations effectively and equips staff to respond quickly. This reduced staff stress when faced with patient crisis, improved clinical outcomes and improved staff understanding of mental health problems.

"Respond is a totally immersive experience. It encouraged me and my professional colleagues to leave the comfort zone of role and remit and face more honestly the considerations of a critical incident which involves mental health crisis. As a learning tool this cannot be underestimated."

Anthony - Police Officer

Integration of police and mental health specialists in crisis triage teams

A street triage team responds to calls alongside the police, assessing a person’s mental state by face-to-face contact and advising whether detention under the Mental Health Act is necessary. If not, the team provides access to community-based mental health and other services. If the person needs to be detained in a place of safety, the team ensures staff there are aware of their health needs.

It also advises and supports criminal justice staff, checking whether someone is known to mental health services and signposting to other services.

Outcomes and benefits

The overall outcomes of this programme of work are as follows:

  • The number of police detentions under the Mental Health Act has halved.
  • Annual rates of Section 136 detentions fell by 56 percent.
  • 78 percent fall of detentions and reductions of adult Section 136 admissions in Sunderland.
  • Short term detentions (Section 136) fell by 72 percent.

Additional information

You can find out more about the RESPOND training by accessing the RESPOND training brochure or the Cumbria, Northumnerland, Tyne & Wear NHS resources page.

The aim of the ZSA Case Studies is to introduce users to a range of examples of new and innovative practice, with the broad aim of working to support people with their mental health, bring awareness to and help prevent incidence of suicide. Please seek further information by contacting the ZSA and appropriate professional input prior to making a decision over its use.

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Content last updated: 25/11/2022

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