Long-awaited “crisis intervention” teams, which bring together gardaí, mental health workers, and other professionals, are set to be piloted in Limerick City as early as April next year.
The special multi-agency bodies are designed to be expert emergency response units tasked with dealing with potentially volatile situations, often involving a mental health-related crisis.
Calls to consider setting up such teams were first made by a joint garda-Mental Health Commission report in 2009.
In 2018, the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland again called for such bodies to be set up in every garda division.
It said they should provide a “round the clock response” and comprise police, mental health, substance abuse, child services, and other social workers.
The absence of such teams was raised in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of George Nkencho by armed gardaí in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, last December. His family said he had a serious mental illness.
A Government plan on implementing recommendations in the Geiran report on Drogheda stated that a project was set up in July 2020 on the implementation of divisional crisis intervention teams.
“The aim of the project is to explore multi-agency intervention teams, which will be a collaboration between An Garda Síochána and mental health professionals to provide a rapid and integrated response to persons with mental health issues,” the plan stated:
The plan, published yesterday, said there was ongoing consultation with external police forces, mental health experts, and the academic research partner, the University of Limerick.
Separately, the Drogheda plan stated the Department of Children had set up an inter-departmental group to explore the feasibility of introducing a domestic violence programme similar to Operation Encompass in England and Wales.
It involves police sharing information with a child’s school where there has been a domestic incident at the child’s home the previous day.