Wednesday, 9 July 2008 - 2:11pm |
National News

Nursing Support in Police Stations- pilot scheme launched

2 min read

A scheme which gives Police the ability to intervene positively at a point when a person's life is in crisis was launched in Christchurch today by Police and Canterbury District Health Board.

Superintendent Dave Cliff, District Commander Canterbury, said that it was about giving people with mental health and or alcohol and drug issues the appropriate support or access to services if they are detained by police, at the earliest possible stage, and with the aim of reducing the chances of them turning up again in Police stations.

This is part of a new pilot programme by the New Zealand Police and the Ministry of Health which aims at improving the service both services can give to those who suffer from these issues. It is being piloted in Manakau and Christchurch Central Police stations for the next two years.

Superintendent Cliff says he is delighted that Christchurch Central has been chosen as one of the pilot programs because this is the second busiest watch house in the country, after Manakau.

"It is the only Watch house serving the whole of Christchurch, 24/7, unlike other large metropolitan areas which have several. So it is a very busy place," he says.

"Police are very often the first agency to have contact with people with mental health and alcohol/drug issues, usually when things go wrong, and the assistance of specialist nurses will be ideal.

"The nurses are based in the watch house and screen people who have been detained, who will then be referred on to treatment if appropriate. Without their identification and knowledge, these people could be processed with no consideration to their particular needs at a time when they are particularly vulnerable. "

Since the nurses started work in Christchurch on 9 June they have already seen 90 people out of the 839 who have been through the watch house in that time;

22 of these people have been given appropriate advice on their identified issue, 14 have been referred to another agency such as psychiatric emergency services, an NGO or the District Court Forensic Nurse.

Superintendent Cliff says that obviously the placement of the nurses here will greatly assist his staff in managing those who are processed through the watch house or detained in the cells and enable police to provide a much better service.

"Some people who end up in police cells do so because there is often nowhere else for them to go, no one else willing or able to take them. We are very grateful to the Ministry of Health and Canterbury District Health Board for coming on to this project with us and providing staff with the expertise. We look forward to this scheme working for everyone involved."

For further detail and comments about the schemes in Counties Manukau and Christchurch please contact the following people:

Counties Manukau:

Police - Inspector Dave Simpson, 09, 262 6563

Counties Manukau District Health Board - Pip Mathews, 021 221 7657


Police - Senior Sgt Steve King, 03 363 7719

Canterbury District Health Board - Michelle Hider, 03 364 4103