WORKFORCE: Police liaison officers are to be based within the accident and emergency department at Royal Blackburn Hospital to help reduce aggression towards staff and unnecessary police attendance.

Two officers will be based at the department on shifts between 8am and 4pm from Thursdays to Sundays. They will work during daytime hours during the rest of the week.

They will begin work on 1 April, and will be fully operational following a two week induction period.

The arrangement is being jointly funded by East Lancashire Hospitals Trusts, which runs the hospital, Lancashire Constabulary, Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

Lancashire Care Foundation Trust also assisted in developing the project.

Officers will work with hospital staff identify patients who demonstrate challenging behaviour, alcohol and substance misuse issues, do not have a clear mental health diagnosis and are in frequent attendance at the A&E department.

Around 1230 police calls were made to the hospital’s A&E department between Sepmber 2012 and September. These largely related to “complex individuals who frequently visited the A&E department in a distressed state as the result of alcohol and substance misuse or mental health problems.”

Justin Srivastava, Lancashire Constabulary’s chief inspector lead for early action, east divison, said: “This project isn’t about providing a security presence in A&E. These two officers will be highly skilled individuals trained to identify complex frequent attenders at A&E who can benefit from other services.

“This is an extremely positive initiative across the health economy aimed at dealing with the root cause of the problem rather than treating the symptoms of the problem and thus allow resources to be utilised better both from a hospital and police perspective.”