A new assessment unit in Lincoln means that people found by police with mental health problems will no longer have to stay in police custody.
The new service at the Peter Hodgkinson Centre at Lincoln County Hospital is a collaboration between Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lincolnshire Police.
The unit serves people under section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
The service will be used for all of Lincolnshire and means individuals are assessed by a doctor and mental health professional to determine the correct course of action.
Trust general manager for adult services, Mary Quint, said: “The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommend that every mental health in-patient service has a section 136 suite, so the opening of this unit is a really positive step for the Trust.
“It is important that people assessed under section 136 are received in a suitable environment, and seen by approved mental health professionals. PHC is a more appropriate place than the police station.”
Police Inspector Jon Morris said: “This development represents a significant advance in providing prompt and effective help to this vulnerable group of people.
“A police station, as a place of safety for holding and assessment, is not the most appropriate for people suffering acute mental health issues.”
Jon George-Jones, Trust acute care manager, added: “We aim to assess people between two to four hours after which individuals will either be sent home if appropriate possibly with home treatment or admitted to the wards within PHC.”