SPECIALIST mental health training is to be rolled out across all frontline staff at North Yorkshire Police following the success of a trial project.

In the trial, mental health professionals provided training for a randomly selected group of 230 officers aimed at improving their understanding of and ability to identify people with mental health needs.

Now the trial has been analysed in detail, comparing calls attended by officers who had received the training with calls attended by officers who had not, along with a survey.

The survey results suggest that there was a positive change in police officers’ knowledge, attitudes and confidence in responding to incidents involving individuals with mental health problems.

In particular, they reported greater confidence in understanding mental health terminology and recognising the signs and symptoms of a range of conditions.

Deputy Chief Constable Lisa Winward, of North Yorkshire Police, said the project had been one of the ‘most useful and valuable’ collaborations carried out by the force.

She added: “Clearly there remains much work to be done to support people with mental health problems and avoid the need to contact the police in the first place.

“But if and when they do, I am confident that we are far better informed to ensure they get the most appropriate care at the time.

“We are now planning to expand the training across the force to all our frontline staff - from officers on the beat to our force control room.”

The trial was part of Connect, a collaborative project between the University of York and North Yorkshire Police, administered by the College of Policing.

The study, published in the journal PLoS One, revealed that the training of frontline officers did not reduce the number of incidents reported to the police up to six months after its delivery but it may have a positive effect on how the police record incidents involving individuals with mental health problems.

The training package was developed by York University and delivered by professionals from the Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.