Resetting the relationship between local and national government. Read our Local Government White Paper

Right Care, Right Person: Policing and mental health and welfare checks

Right Care, Right Person (RCRP) is a partnership approach which aims to ensure that individuals in mental health crisis are seen by the right professional, to improve outcomes and the experience for people who need mental health support. It also applies to calls to Police regarding concerns about welfare.

What is Right Care, Right Person? 

RCRP is an approach developed originally by Humberside Police and partners. It sets out the principles around a partnership approach which aims to ensure that individuals in mental health crisis are seen by the right professional. 

It also applies to calls to police about welfare including the following:

  • concern for the welfare of a person
  • people who have walked out of a healthcare setting
  • people who are absent without leave from mental health services 
  • medical incidents.


In July 2023, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) launched the National Partnership Agreement (NPA): Right Care Right Person. The NPA was signed by Government, the National Police Chiefs Council, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners the College of Policing and NHS England.  

In June 2023 the LGA wrote jointly with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Association of Directors of Children's Services to Ministers express concerns in relation to the NPA. We highlighted its potential wider impacts on councils particularly regarding safeguarding and the need to seek engagement. 

We had responses to the effect that whilst they acknowledge our concerns and are willing to engage with us around developing specific guidance and monitoring impact, decisions around how or whether to roll out this approach rest with local police commanders. However, they emphasised that any roll out of RCRP should be developed in partnership with councils and the NHS.  

We have also engaged with the National Police Chiefs Council, and they have reassured us that they want to see police forces roll out RCRP with partners rather than imposing it on them. The need for local collaboration and partnership is key to RCRP being effective and this is recognised in the NPA Guidance. It says: 

‘To successfully adopt the approach, strong partnerships need to be formed between police forces, health bodies and local authorities to identify how to implement this approach in a way that best meets the needs of the local population and the shared aims of the agencies involved.’ 

Partnership between local agencies and stakeholders will enable the identification of local priority areas, the development of system plans, the mobilisation and delivery of changes and resources, communication of the model and the ways in which systems will monitor the impact of changes on people. 

It is crucial that at the heart of planning and implementing RCRP for people with mental health needs, there is a focus on ensuring patient safety is maintained and people in mental health crisis are not left without support. This means the approach to RCRP implementation for people with mental health needs should be planned and developed jointly through cross-agency partnerships before changes to responses are introduced.

National Guidance RCRP, July 2023

When is it happening? 

RCRP is planned to be introduced by all police forces. Different areas will take this forward at different speeds relevant to the needs in their area. The NPA does not set out a timeframe for implementation. Guidance is being developed by Police, NHSE (for Health) and the DHSC (for local authorities). Representatives from Local Authorities and AMHP Leaders are involved in developing the guidance with the Department of Health and Social Care. Once guidance for local authorities is published, we will post it on this site.  

Is it just about Mental Health? 

No. Although the NPA sets out a collective national agreement to roll out RCRP relating to mental health incidents only, many police forces are rolling out this approach more broadly than mental health, reassessing police involvement in responding to requests to undertake ‘welfare checks’ for people where concerns develop. These include:

  • concern for the welfare of a person
  • people who have walked out of a healthcare setting
  • people who are absent without leave from mental health services
  • medical incidents.

As such its implications may be felt more widely and council staff including social workers will want to be much clearer about how they are requesting police involvement in relation to concerns about potential crime linked to safeguarding rather than ‘welfare.’ 

What is the threshold? 

The threshold for a police response to a mental health-related incident is: 

  • to investigate a crime that has occurred or is occurring; or 
  • to protect people, when there is a real and immediate risk to the life of a person, or of a person being subject to or at risk of serious harm. 

However, national guidelines highlight the need to have alternative sources of support in place prior to changing practice. 

LGA key messages

  • The LGA agree that the needs of people experiencing mental health crisis should be addressed by the most appropriate service, and this may not always be the Police. 
  • We have raised concerns the RCRP model could be rolled out too quickly, with inadequate local engagement and partnership working, meaning that other agencies are unable to pick up demand.   
  • Implementing RCRP without engaging partners presents risks to people experiencing mental distress, those who care for them and those adults and children in need of safeguarding. 
  • We have expressed concerns about how RCRP will work in practice. There are risks that the police cease engaging in cases where their involvement remained appropriate, leading to dangerous situations for individuals and staff. The DHSC are currently developing social care guidance, but this has not been published. Police and health have separate guidance. DHSC are undertaking a survey of local authorities and Integrated Care Boards to understand its impact including understanding potential resource issues. DHSC are also developing metrics to measure RCRP impact.
  • Children’s services have not been meaningfully involved in the development of the National Agreement to date and members of the LGA, ADASS and ADCS have highlighted safeguarding concerns for younger children living in a household with an adult in crisis and for older children who themselves maybe in crisis, particularly children in care or 16- and 17-year-olds transitioning to independence.  
  • We are concerned that Police forces will introduce the approach without having agreed a process with local partners and understood the implications for councils. Councils, health services and the Police continue to have statutory responsibilities to people experiencing mental health crisis and in relation to safeguarding, and we believe that RCRP needs to be implemented in a much more managed way to allow for councils and other partners to plan for its introduction and minimise the risk to members of the community, particularly children and young people and adults needing care and support. 
  • It is important to note that the introduction of the model by Humberside Police was over a three-year period supported by a multi-agency task and finish group that involved all local authorities and other key partners. Such established partnerships may not currently exist in all areas and may need to be established – at the very least there will need to be a firm understanding in local areas of the roles and responsibilities of each agency, including the police being a statutory safeguarding partner with an equal responsibility to councils and health services. 

Further information

National Partnership Agreement: Right Care, Right Person

College of Policing National Guidance 

ADASS Right Care, Right Person update

LGA Contact: [email protected]