Right Care, Right Person – New model launched to ensure vulnerable get right help

Working with health and social care partners Suffolk Constabulary is rolling out a new policy to ensure that vulnerable people are given the right support from the right agency when they need it.

‘Right Care, Right Person’, being introduced on 1 October 2023, is a model designed to ensure that when there are concerns for a person’s welfare linked to mental health, medical or social care issues, the right person with the right skills, training and experience will respond.

Frequently, police officers are asked to look after people with health or social care needs who require specialist medical support or psychological care that officers are not trained to provide.

In recent years there has been a significant rise in the number of calls for service police receive that are related to mental health.  These have often led to the Constabulary deploying to situations where it has no legal duty to attend and, probably more importantly where police officers and staff are not equipped with the skills, knowledge, or training to provide the best and most effective response to a member of the public at their time of need.

Under ‘Right Care, Right Person’, police officers will no longer be taking on this responsibility when it is not appropriate to do so. The care will now be provided by the agency that can best meet the individual’s needs. Police will continue to protect the public where the risks presented need a policing attendance.

Similar schemes have already been adopted by other forces including Humberside and North Yorkshire and Suffolk’s adoption is part of a national roll-out of the scheme to all police forces in the country.

The threshold for police intervention will be:

  • There is an immediate risk to life or serious harm to an identified person
  • Immediate harm – it is obvious to the police that there is a risk to life presently, at this moment or in the immediate future, or has already occurred
  • Serious harm – there is a risk of significant harm to the person concerned, this can be physical harm, serious neglect issues, significant mental health symptoms, all of which would amount to the suffering of potential significant injuries or psychological harm

ACC Eamonn Bridger said: “Keeping people safe in Suffolk is our priority and we remain committed to ensuring the public are provided the policing service they would expect.

“General demands on policing have increased as criminality has become more complex. We must adapt our approach and focus on the core responsibilities of the police to prevent and detect crime, keep the King’s peace and protect life and property.

“To be clear, we will continue to attend incidents where the risks presented requires a policing attendance.

“We will also continue to work closely with partners as the programme moves through its various phases. People can also reassured that close monitoring is in place to understand any impact from the change in approach.

Richard Watson, Deputy Chief Executive, NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board said: “The priority as always remains the protection of the most vulnerable in our communities. It rightly should always be the case that when someone is experiencing a mental health or social care emergency they are responded to by the most appropriate professional who can best deal with that situation.

“We have worked closely with Suffolk Constabulary and our health and care partners in the run-up to the launch of Right Care, Right Person and over the coming months will evaluate its implementation.

“It is important too to recognise that Suffolk Constabulary will still be available when needed to offer their support and expertise, and we thank police staff for all that they do in supporting our communities.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk Tim Passmore said: “Right Care, Right Person is being adopted by police services across the UK and its aim is to ensure that vulnerable people are given the right support from the right agency when they need it.

“In recent years Suffolk Constabulary, like most other police services, has seen a significant increase in the number of calls for service it receives related to mental health.   Our officers are highly trained to deal with a variety of situations, but they are not equipped with the skills, knowledge, or training to provide the best and most effective response to someone in mental health crisis. These issues must be dealt with by health-care professionals and the Right Care, Right Person approach will ensure this happens.

“The Chief Constable and I attended the Health and Wellbeing Board back in March to inform partners and stakeholders of our intention to implement the Right Care, Right Person strategy and the Constabulary has been working with these partners to ensure a smooth transition, which will take place in a planned and gradual way.  Having spoken to individuals and organisations across the county I believe there is a good understanding and support for this initiative, which I very much welcome.

“The most important thing is that anyone in mental health crisis receives the most appropriate care possible and that will not, and should not, be from the police.”

Current proposed timeline of phased introduction:

Phase one – October 2023 – Concern for Welfare

Phase two – approx. Jan 2024: ‘Walk outs’ of health care facilities/mental health establishments

Phase three –  approx. spring 2024: Transportation – non secure/secure ambulances

Phase four – approx. summer 2024: Mental Health Act Section 136


Previous update – 15 June 2023 – Right Care, Right Person – An Update