North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan sets out her priorities for a second term – pledging greater support for vulnerable people, especially children and people with mental health problems
Following her successful re-election last week, Julia Mulligan today formally took up her post as Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and the City of York.
Julia’s first act was to convene a meeting to hear the views and experiences of people with mental health concerns, together with charities, health care professionals and the police service, all of whom provide support to vulnerable people.
Commenting on her first day in office, Julia said:
My first act back in November 2012 was to meet victims of crime. Today, I am setting out my commitment to vulnerable people, which will be a top priority during my second term in office. Whilst much progress has been made over the past 4 years or so, more can and should be done.
As your Police and Crime Commissioner, it’s my job to listen to the public and bring people together to improve services. This morning’s meeting between the public, the police, patients, charities and mental health professionals proved to be a valuable opportunity to listen, hear and learn.
The feedback from this meeting, future engagement work and understanding demand for services will shape support going forwards. I am determined to put people first, building a comprehensive suite of services around them. This approach is also key to enhancing the service provided by the police, and improving outcomes for the public.
Julia Mulligan comes in to office with a number of key pledges including to:
- Improve forensic examination services for children who have been sexually assaulted
- Bring in new support for parents and families affected by child sexual exploitation
- Extend services directly supporting sexually exploited children to all parts of North Yorkshire
- Introduce new services to protect children being targeted online
- Extend mental health street triage services to Harrogate, Hambleton and Richmondshire and improve services already in place in Scarborough and York
- Extend the hours of the mental health force control room triage service to 12 hours a day, seven days a week
Increase the number of independent domestic abuse advisors (IDVAs) by two to 14 across York and North Yorkshire – helping up to a further 200 victims each year.
These new services are in addition to the £3.2m investment in policing services for vulnerable people that was announced by Julia and Chief Constable Dave Jones earlier this year.
Services for children and families
Forensic services for sexually assaulted children
Currently, adults who have been sexually assaulted undergo forensic examination at the 24/7 forensic nurse examiner-led Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in York. This typically means they get the help they need within 90 minutes of a call for service.
In contrast, children who have been sexually assaulted are referred to York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to see a specially trained paediatrician as part of a service that only operates between 12 noon and 4pm on weekdays. Because of its limited hours, children sometimes have to wait to be seen or are sent as far afield as Manchester so they can undergo forensic examination within the timeframe needed to ensure its results can be used as evidence in any prosecution.
The law says that children who have been sexually abused must come under the care of forensically trained paediatric doctor.
The problem is that there is a national shortage of them which makes it difficult to run anything but a limited service.
I have raised this matter again and again and the answer would be for NHS England and Trusts to attract and train more paediatricians in the role. But until they do, the service in York is limited and is at risk of failing vulnerable children and their families who have already been through a dreadful trauma. I will continue to work with the NHS and government to resolve this issue, so that we can provide a more local victim-centred service.
Support for parents and exploited children
Julia also pledged to increase support for parents and families affected by child sexual exploitation by commissioning services from PACE (Parents Against Child Exploitation).
In addition, she is looking to expand the ‘Time 2’ project that operates in York, Harrogate and Scarborough into Hambleton, Richmondshire and Craven. ‘Time 2’ allocates a key worker to children identified as having been exploited and provides one on one support and mentoring.
Mental health and domestic abuse
Julia has already introduced a range of new initiatives to improve the way the police deal with people with mental health difficulties.
The success of this work is seen with new figures which show the number of people taken into police cells after being detained under the Mental Health Act has fallen by 80 per cent from 278 in 2013/14 to 57 in 2015/16.
To build on this, Julia has allocated £600,000 to support vulnerable victims and people. This includes £450,000 for services for people with mental health issues.
Street triage – up to £270,000 additional investment
Mental health street triage services which currently operate in Scarborough and York are being further developed to ensure mental health professionals are on hand to help people in mental health crisis when they present to the police.
Julia is working with partner organisations to extend the service this year to Harrogate, Hambleton and Richmondshire.
Force control room triage – up to £175,000 additional investment
The additional investment to extend the hours of the force control room triage service is about to come on line. This sees a mental health professional sit alongside call handlers, advising frontline officers on the most appropriate way to support people in mental distress. The service will now operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
Estimates suggest that 40 per cent of calls to the police involve people in some kind of mental distress. With the best will in the world, officers are not trained mental health professionals so it makes sense to involve mental health crisis professionals from the outset.
The evidence shows clearly that this approach not only frees up police time but also makes sure people with a mental health problem who are experiencing a crisis have the best possible service, and that means help from a health professional.
Domestic abuse – £150,000 additional investment
North Yorkshire has one of the highest conviction rates for domestic abuse and Julia has invested an additional £50,000 in two extra independent domestic abuse advisors (IDVAs) for the county – bringing the total to 14. This means up to a further 200 victims can receive the support of an advisor every year.
A further £50,000 will be made available to enhance counselling services for domestic and sexual abuse victims and up to £50,000 to encourage victims of domestic abuse to refer themselves to services through targeted marketing activity. This follows a pilot run earlier in the year.
In addition, she is changing the way she invests Community Safety funding to commission early intervention domestic abuse services, making them available across York and North Yorkshire; a voluntary perpetrator of domestic abuse programme, a RESPECT programme to support young people showing signs of domestic offending within their families, and an early intervention programme for standard risk victim’s to complement her existing medium and high-risk IDVA service.