A police team credited with saving the lives of many people struggling with mental health issues has been honoured for its work.

Based out of Falmouth Police Station but operating across West Cornwall and even as far afield as Newquay and St Austell, the G999 Team are secondary responders to any police job that has a mental health element to it, which releases regular police officers to go to other jobs.

The team has helped more than 70 people in need of immediate support, with the jobs that the responders attend often being severe and potentially life-threatening situations.

Now the G999 Team has been honoured with the Chief Constable’s Innovation in Policing Award for its work with a nearby charity.

The Sea Sanctuary is a marine-based mental health charity based out of Penryn River, which was commissioned by the NHS. Its aim is to reach people who are struggling with their mental health and often show anxiety, depression, self-injurious behaviour and various forms of personality disorder.

The charity applied for funding from Cornwall Community Foundation under the Cornwall Crimebeat grant, to develop a Blue Light Interface Project as a 12-month pilot.

This has seen them working in partnership with Devon and Cornwall Police since April 2019 and it has funding for it to continue.

Special Constables work with a mental health practitioner to identify members of the public who show signs of mental ill-health, to offer a different route to that of detention or arrest.

A spokesperson said: "The aim is to introduce a different approach and reduce the offending rate by way of attending incidents and providing intervention; identifying trends, providing education and a sign-posting service into Sea Sanctuary’s main services and other specialist provision; helping individuals and reducing demand on front line blue light services."

The charity supports invidiuals from the initial call out, through a range of aftercare treatments and projects, including art groups, a sailing programme and one-to-one therapy. 

Explaining the reason for the award, a spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "The team has been credited with saving the lives of many people who have been struggling with mental health issues.

"Not only do they support the individuals on the night but also help them in the long term with referrals to charities and providing advice.

"Taking someone who can see no other way forward, spending time with them, showing them that there is hope and watching them have that realisation gives the team enormous job satisfaction.

"The G999 Team hopes that its work may encourage other forces to adopt a similar model and strengthen the response to people in mental health crisis nationally."