Interagency collaboration models for people with mental ill health in contact with the police: a systematic scoping review

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Objective: To identify existing evidence on inter-agency collaboration between law enforcement, emergency services, statutory services and third sector agencies regarding people with mental ill-health.
Design: Systematic scoping review. Scoping reviews map particular research areas to identify research gaps.
Data sources and eligibility: ASSIA, CENTRAL, the Cochrane Library databases, Criminal Justice Abstracts, ERIC, Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PROSPERO and Social Care Online and Social Sciences Citation Index, were searched up to 2017, as were grey literature and hand searches. Eligible articles were empirical evaluations or descriptions of models of inter-agency collaboration between the police and other agencies.
Study appraisal and synthesis: Screening and data extraction were undertaken independently by two researchers. Arksey’s framework was used to collate and map included studies.
Results: One hundred and twenty-five studies were included. The majority of articles were of descriptions of models (28%), mixed methods evaluations of models (18%) and single service evaluations (14%). The most frequently reported outcomes (52%) were ‘organisational or service level outcomes’ (e.g. arrest rates). Most articles (53%) focused on adults with mental ill-health, whilst others focused on adult offenders with mental ill-health (17.4%). Thirteen models of inter-agency collaboration were described, each involving between 2-13 agencies. Frequently reported models were ‘pre-arrest diversion’ of people with mental ill-health (34%), ‘co-response’ involving joint response by police officers paired with mental health professionals (28.6%) and ‘jail diversion’ following arrest (23.8%).
Conclusions: We identified 13 different inter-agency collaboration models catering for a range of mental health related interactions. All but one of these models involved the police and mental health services or professionals. Several models have sufficient literature to warrant full systematic reviews of their effectiveness, while others need robust evaluation, by RCT where appropriate. Future evaluations should focus on health related outcomes and the impact on key stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalBMJ Open
Issue numbere019312
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

© Article author(s)


  • Police, inter-agency-collaboration
  • mental health

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