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Volunteer police team nationally recognised for mental health crisis work in Essex

PUBLISHED: 18:06 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:06 14 November 2017

Special superintendent Leon Dias, who heads the mental health street triage team. Picture: CLIFFORD HICKS

Special superintendent Leon Dias, who heads the mental health street triage team. Picture: CLIFFORD HICKS

A team of special constables who give up their own time to support people experiencing a mental health crisis in Essex has been nominated for a national award.

The Lord Ferrers Award, which is hosted by the Government and established by the former Home Office minister, highlights the vital role volunteers play in support of policing.

Essex Police’s mental health street triage team has been shortlisted for the special constabulary team award.

Between January and August this year, the group of 14 special constables spent 1,400 hours of their spare time on duty staffing Essex Police’s two mental health triage cars.

The cars are staffed from 10am to 2am seven days a week with one trained police officer and one mental health nurse.

They are available to support officers across the county attending incidents where an individual involved may be suffering mental health difficulties.

Once the car is called to an incident, the on-board nurse can provide an immediate assessment while at the scene, ensuring the individual involved receives the correct help.

Between April and June this year, the street triage team attended 723 incidents across Essex, preventing 144 people from being sectioned and 136 from being detained in police custody because they received appropriate treatment and support.

Superintendent Simon Anslow, who leads Essex Police’s Special Constabulary, said: “This team of special constables provide an invaluable resource to our county.”

Special superintendent Leon Dias, who heads the mental health street triage team, added: “I’m extremely proud to lead this team and delighted we have been shortlisted for an award.

“As well as undergoing specialist training, officers on the team also had to evidence experience in dealing with mental health issues, whether that is through working in health or social care or supporting a loved one that has suffered a crisis.

“All this added together means they have excellent skills and knowledge to support people in crisis to receive the appropriate help and support.”

The team will find out if they have won at a ceremony in London later this month.

Special constables have full police powers, uniform, equipment and training.

To become a special you need to be: 18 or over; commit to a minimum of 16 hours each month for operational duties plus training; meet the required fitness standard; and commit to the initial training requirement of 20 days.

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