Top award for Bedfordshire project targeting mental health issues

The project has helped reduce anti-social behaviour on hospital wards

Friday, 17th December 2021, 11:31 am

A Bedfordshire Police and NHS project to support in-patient mental health staff and service users has received a national award.

Sergeant Andrew Harris from Bedfordshire Police and Richard Harwin from East London NHS Foundation Trust have received the annual Violence Reduction Initiative Award from the National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS) for 2020 and 2021.

Sgt Harris has been working as the force’s Mental Health Investigation Officer, a role which provides a visible police presence to staff and service users, a single point of contact for mental health inpatient teams and investigates any incidents of anti-social or criminal behaviour.

Richard Harwin and Sgt Andrew Harris with their award recognition at the Luton Centre for Mental Health in Dunstable

The role covers the Trust’s in-patient sites in the county and Sgt Harris has been supported by Richard, the Trust’s Health, Safety, Security and Emergency Planning Manager.

The partnership work has produced significant results in reducing issues on the wards.

In July 2020 there were 53 crime reports made to the police for damage or disorder on the acute wards. By December 2020, a typical peak time in offending on acute mental health wards over the Christmas period, this was down to 15 reports. In January 2021 just 13 reports across all wards.

“I am tremendously proud of this partnership programme and Sgt Harris has been exceptional,” said Richard Harwin.

“He has achieved truly impressive results and the catalyst for such a positive cultural change within our in-patient services has been his ability to build relationships of trust with colleagues and service users alike.

“This is an example of how good partnership working between the police and mental health services can transform people’s lives, improve the experience of mental health staff who often work tirelessly to support the most vulnerable people in our society, as well as improve the quality of life for the whole community,” said Sgt Harris.

The NAHS is a national not-for-profit organisation that offers support and enables healthcare provision through the delivery of professional security management; promoting and ensuring members are best placed and equipped to provide a safe and secure environment for their organisations staff, patients and all visitors.