The Policing Authority has today published a report on a roundtable event at the University of Limerick, which brought international experts together to discuss joint policing and health agency responses (co-response models) to crisis mental health situations.
Co-response models generally involve police officers dealing with incidents involving suspected mental ill-health alongside mental health and addiction professionals.
The report, co-authored by Superintendent Andrew Lacey and Dr. Alan Cusack, summarises the insights and knowledge shared at the roundtable on the experience of other countries that implemented co-responder programmes, with the aim of feeding into the development of a pilot co-response model in Ireland.
The Limerick based pilot, termed Community Access Support Teams (CAST), is intended to create a specialist uniform unit within the Garda Síochána, which will work with health professionals to provide a rapid and integrated 24/7 response to persons with mental health issues, as was recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.
The Authority welcomes the recent decision by the Garda Síochána to approve the pilot and looks forward to the next steps towards implementation. Policing Authority Chief Executive, Helen Hall, commented:
“The role of a member of the Garda Síochána as first responder to someone experiencing a crisis mental event is one of the most demanding that they face. The Authority welcomes the contribution this report will make to the development of a response model which will see agencies work together to divert individuals who experience a mental health crisis away from the criminal justice system, and towards more appropriate care and support. The benefits of a successful pilot will be felt not only by individuals in crisis, but by all the agencies involved and by society as a whole.”
This symposium was funded by the Policing Authority under the Irish Research Council’s New Foundations awards scheme which brings researchers and community organisations together to collaborate on projects that will have a tangible impact on societal and community issues. It was convened by Superintendent Andrew Lacey (the Garda Síochána), in conjunction with Alan Cusack (Centre for Crime, Justice and Victim Studies (CCJVS), School of Law. University of Limerick). Superintendent Lacey is the implementation team leader and member of the Joint Steering Committee designing the CAST pilot.
The report will be discussed at the next meeting in public between the Policing Authority and the Garda Commissioner, which will take place tomorrow Thursday 24 November at the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise at 3pm. The public can attend this meeting by registering here, and it will be live-streamed on www.policingauthority.ie.