Police, NHS and CPS sign deal to protect NHS staff in Midlands

01/07/2013

A new agreement to help protect NHS staff in the Midlands from violent and antisocial behaviour has been signed today (1 July 2013) by four police forces, the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and NHS Protect – which leads nationally in tackling crime against the NHS.

The West Midlands, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and West Mercia police forces, covering a population of 5.6 million, have all signed up.

The new Service Level Agreement (SLA) helps implement the national Joint Working Agreement between the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the CPS and NHS Protect 'Tackling violence and antisocial behaviour in the NHS'.

The Midlands SLA aims to improve information exchange and lines of communication, in particular between the police and NHS, in tackling violence and antisocial behaviour on NHS premises. It also aims to strengthen the prosecution process, recognising that there is a strong public interest in prosecuting those who assault NHS staff or commit other offences that disrupt the provision of NHS services to the public.

The SLA breaks new ground with a template setting out what information the NHS should provide to police on a suspect's mental health condition, for the purposes of charging and reviewing mentally disordered offenders. It is expected to enable more informed and balanced charging decisions by police and the CPS in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors.

Nick Aronin, West Midlands Area Security Management Specialist for NHS Protect, said today:

"All parties to the new agreement have worked hard together to reach this point and will continue to do so. Every West Midlands NHS trust now has a Local Security Management Specialist (LSMS) and this agreement will help them to keep building on their vital relationships with the police and CPS. NHS Protect will continue to support health bodies to ensure that all incidents of violence and aggression against staff are addressed and appropriate sanctions are sought where necessary. We recognise the difficulties associated with incidents where mental health may be a factor and we are due to publish comprehensive guidance later this year to help NHS bodies manage challenging behaviour in this sector."

Mark Paul, Area Legal Advisor for West Midlands CPS, said: "The agreement helps clarify the balance to be struck when prosecutors are considering the culpability of a suspect. In some circumstances mental or physical ill health may mean it is less likely that a prosecution is required. However, prosecutors will also need to consider how serious the offence was, whether it is likely to be repeated and the need to safeguard the public or those providing care to the public."

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: "Our officers are working hard to drive down crime and bring offenders to justice. By working together in this way with the NHS, Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and others, we can give health professionals the protection they deserve and ensure offenders are brought before the courts where appropriate."