Mental health experts to accompany police on patrol

Mental health experts are to accompany police on patrol as part of a new government scheme.

The initiative, which will involve police forces in Devon & Cornwall, Derbyshire, North Yorkshire and Sussex, aims to improve the way police deal with criminals that have mental illnesses.

It comes after several complaints about mentally ill criminals being detained in the wrong environment.

Many of the police accomplices are likely to be nurses who have passed counselling courses. Marjorie Wallace, who is chief executive of mental health charity Sane, is one of many people to have welcomed the support of these individuals.

In an interview with bbc.co.uk, she said: "We hear all the time about police having to pick up the pieces where psychiatric services have failed mentally ill people.

"In many cases they do this with care and common sense, but they are not trained in dealing with the complexities of mental ill-health and can feel uncertain and unsupported when they are the only ones to take steps to protect the patient and occasionally others."

Burtonmail.co.uk reports that a 24-hour helpline set up to provide police with additional advice about a criminal's mental illness is almost ready to launch as well. The advice line should be up and running by the end of July.