ALL frontline staff at North Yorkshire Police will be given specialist training in mental health issues following a trial carried out by researchers at the University of York.

A randomised controlled trial was run by researchers in the university's York Trials Unit to assess the effectiveness of a bespoke mental health training package for frontline police officers.

The training was delivered by mental health professionals to 230 frontline officers based at police stations across North Yorkshire.

The study revealed that the training did not reduce the number of reported incidents after six months but it may have a positive effect on how police record incidents involving individuals with mental health problems.

During the trial period 9,157 incidents were reported to North Yorkshire Police, and 10 per cent of the incidents were given a mental health tag. Tags added to incident records help ensure officers respond to future incidents involving that individual appropriately.

Deputy chief constable Lisa Winward, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "The training delivered by mental health professionals from the Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust has been particularly helpful, both improving our understanding of our respective roles and capabilities, and strengthening the relationships between operational staff in the complex landscape of mental health crisis care. That, in turn, helps us provide a better service to people in distress.

"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 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, officers reported greater confidence in understanding mental health terminology; recognising the signs and symptoms of a range of mental health conditions; recording incidents involving mental health; responding to individuals experiencing mental ill health; working with partner agencies and reviewing actions taken in relation to incidents involving mental ill health.

The trial was part of Connect, a collaborative project between the University of York and North Yorkshire Police on new approaches to dealing with mental health problems.

It is anticipated that the results of the study will help inform the next review of national guidance for training police officers in their approach to individuals who may have mental health problems.