Following the letter of the law

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Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner writes in her latest newsletter: “I am pleased to confirm that Sussex Police will soon be opening  recruitment for up to 100 new police officers. Around 40% of the increase in officer numbers was enabled by the extra £5 a year that Sussex residents told me they are happy to contribute towards the vital area of digital forensics and protecting vulnerable children and adults. I would like to thank communities across Sussex for their financial commitment and for their continued support for their neighbourhood policing teams.

Only this week, Sussex Police was praised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for understanding local concerns and maintaining good partnerships to prevent crime. With additional police officers and your continuing support we can all help make Sussex safer.”

On the subject of policing and mental health, she writes: “Sussex is a leading force in the area of mental health and has piloted a number of initiatives to help alleviate the demand on police officers’ time. Following the introduction of Street Triage in Sussex, there has been a significant decrease in the number of detentions in police custody under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. A mental health nurse working with the Street Triage team told ICVs (Independent Custody Visitors) about this initiative. Not only are large numbers of section 136 detentions being avoided, but triage has also enabled a significant shift towards patients going to health based places of safety, rather than custody.

Estimating demand on the police service suggests that officers spend at least 20% of their time dealing with those in some sort of mental health crisis. Unfortunately, police custody is often the default position for dealing with these people, and we all acknowledge that this is wrong. Things are changing, and Independent Custody Visitors have been instrumental in this process, raising issues and concerns arising from their visits to custody.

Applications for the role of Independent Custody Visitors are welcome from Sussex residents aged 18 years and over. For further information please visit www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk

Photo: Sussex PCC office

Image Credits: Katy Bourne .

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