Northamptonshire Police say there`s been a fall in the number of people detained under the Mental Health Act.
Figures show 41% fewer were held in the county last year compared to 2013.
Officials say the fall is the result of a pilot project between police and health officials.
The project saw a Mental Health Triage Car (MHTC) staffed by a mental health nurse and police officer, attending incidents, as well as a community psychiatric nurse (CPN) working within police custody suites with access to medical records.
The idea is that those coming into contact with the police, who have mental health problems, are better dealt with and directed to the appropriate care, with the aim of diverting them from offending behaviour.
The medical professionals working with officers can, where appropriate, access the GP patient records for anyone taken into custody.
Chief Inspector Nick Purdie, lead for Northamptonshire Police, told Connect FM: “Officers attending incidents can spend a significant proportion of their time dealing with individuals with mental health vulnerabilities. Equally people may be bought into custody who have mental health issues.
“Having a mental health nurse in the MHTC as well as in custody with immediate access to health records, means that people can receive a more appropriate level of support or intervention to their needs.
“This system has helped minimise any risk to the detainee as well as provide investigators and officers attending in the triage car, with useful information, for example, about communication tactics to use where there are mental health issues or learning difficulties.”
Officials say an example of the success of the new approach can be seen in the example below:
Police were called following concerns for the welfare of a 54-year-old woman. The mental health nurse, through accessing health records, was able to establish that the woman had historical mental health issues. The triage car attended the location of the woman and were able to release the first two responding officers.
The nurse carried out an assessment of the woman. As a result of this assessment and access to previous medical history, the nurse was able to offer the woman options for support and engagement with services.
A risk management plan was instigated that involved a full assessment at the home address the following morning.
Crucially this approach allowed the woman to receive the necessary support at the right time, which was better understood and made available through having access to health information and a health professional.
It also meant that the time spent by officers at the location was reduced, allowing them to deal with other incidents.