Right Care Right Person (RCRP) is an operational model that changes the way the emergency services respond to medical calls to ensure that vulnerable people receive the right specialist health support they need.
While some health incidents do require police attendance, there are a significant number in which there is no safety risk or crime committed, and therefore partners in health or social care would be best placed to offer this support.
What does this mean for us in Bedfordshire?
The number of calls we attend obviously has a big impact on the availability of our resources, and sometimes we’re not even the right people to respond to such incidents.
In Bedfordshire over a 12 month-period from July 2022 to June 2023, officers attended 14,738 reports of concern for welfare and 5,666 reports relating to mental health.
We want to be clear that RCRP will not stop the police attending incidents where there is a threat to life. We have a duty to protect our communities and we will continue to do so.
Why are you reducing your involvement in responding to mental health incidents?
RCRP is about delivering the most appropriate care for anyone who needs it. The skills and support vulnerable people may need are often not those of a police officer.
Furthermore, being dealt with by police can have a detrimental impact on vulnerable people, who can feel like they are being criminalised because of their mental health issues.
Working with our partners, we can make sure that our communities get the best possible care for their needs.
Currently our police officers spend a significant amount of time dealing with health incidents, which has an impact on the availability of police resources. We have a duty to prevent and investigate crime and we have a duty to keep people safe and so RCRP will help us balance those duties more effectively.
Does this mean officers will stop going to mental health incidents?
The implementation of RCRP will not stop us from continuing to perform our key role of keeping people safe, but to ensure the most appropriate agency with the correct training and experience in managing mental health issues responds to a person in crisis.
We want to reiterate that we are not stepping away from health-related incidents, as we still have a duty to protect our communities and will always attend incidents where there is a real and immediate threat to life or serious harm to an individual or others around them.
How will we know if an incident needs police or another agency?
A national toolkit has been developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing to support police forces in implementing RCRP.
Our call handlers are currently trained to deal with a wide range of calls and assess each one under THRIVE (Threat Harm Risk Investigation Vulnerability Engagement) to determine if a police response is required and if so, how that response should be prioritised.
RCRP specific guidance has been provided to our control room staff to support with their decision-making processes and training is being delivered to staff and officers in a public facing frontline role.
What is a Section 136?
Section 136 allows a police officer to remove a person from a public place to a place of safety.
That person must “appear to a police officer to be suffering from mental disorder and to be in immediate need of care or control.”
How will RCRP be rolled out?
We have been working with our partners in health and social care to make the necessary changes to service provisions to ensure vulnerable people are given appropriate care by the appropriate agency.
RCRP will be rolled out in a phased approach:
Phase one - concern for welfare
Phase two - walkout of healthcare facilities and AWOL from a mental health establishment
Phase three – transportation
Phase four - Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and voluntary mental health patients
How will this affect the police response to people reported missing?
The context around missing reports varies considerably, and officers will use all available information to determine levels of risk and whether a police response is required. This assessment ensures those most at risk will be identified and prioritised.
Some individuals who are reported missing are patients who have left hospital without being formally discharged, and it is not always the case that they should be treated as a missing person by the police.
In October 2020, the Missing Adults from Health and Care Settings framework was published to assist police officers in making these decisions.
Has RCRP been a success within other areas?
Humberside Police was the first force to implement RCRP and has reported a more collaborative, informed, and appropriate response to incidents involving a health or social care need.
As a result, the force saw average incidents per month reduce by 508 deployments – equating to 1,132 officer hours. This has allowed the force to reallocate saved resource to specialist teams such as missing persons.
How can I find out more?
The College of Policing, along with the National Police Chiefs’ Council have developed national guidance and toolkits which support police forces when implementing RCRP.
There is also a short video from Humberside Police about how they implemented RCRP and how successful it has been.
Anyone who finds themselves in mental health crisis in Bedfordshire and Luton, support is available 24 hours a day through the NHS mental health crisis line where you will be able to speak to a trained mental health professional - call 111 and then select the mental health option.