The lead officer behind a controversial change to how Norfolk's police respond to mental health-related calls has insisted the force is not turning its back on people in need with the approach.

Norfolk Constabulary has formally adopted the Right Care Right Person approach, after 11 months of crunch talks with partners in the health service over the practicalities of the scheme.

The approach will see officers no longer respond to certain mental health and welfare calls - with police attendance depending on whether there is an immediate threat of death or serious injury.

The scheme, which is live as of Wednesday, has sparked fears that vulnerable people will be put at risk.

But the lead officer of the scheme, assistant chief constable Nick Davison, has insisted the approach has been designed to get people the support they need quicker.

He said: "We are not turning our backs on people who are at risk but for people in crisis the right person to see them is not always a police officer.

"The last thing we would want is for people in serious need feeling criminalised.

"The decision [to adopt RCRP] was made last year and we have been working with partners across the health system for the past 11 months to understand all of our roles."

How does it work?

Eastern Daily Press:

The scheme, which was piloted by Humberside Police, sees a new screening process used when somebody contacts the police.

It is applied to a number of scenarios - such as concerns for people's welfare - and sees control room follow a script which assesses whether officers are needed to attend.

In scenarios where there is no immediate threat or risk of death, the caller will then be signposted to another organisation - such as mental health workers.

The scheme also sees officers no longer attend at the request of health services when patients leave wards unexpectedly or provide transportation for patients unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Mr Davison added: "Our call handlers deal with the public on a day-to-day basis and have the professionalism to make sure people feel valued even if they have to refer them on."

The scheme has been in place in Suffolk since October and is in use by several other police forces across the country - including the Metropolitan Police in London.

Mr Davison said: "There is never going to be a genuinely perfect time to bring in any new process."

Cotessey implications

Eastern Daily Press: The identity of the man who has been named locally as Bartlomiaj Kuczynski

The approach was initially planned for rollout in February, but was postponed following the tragic deaths of four family members in Costessey.

On Friday, January 19, the bodies of Bartlomiej Kuczynski, his two daughters, and their aunt were discovered in their home in Queen's Hills. 

Kuczynski, 45, had killed 12-year-old Jasmin and seven-year-old Natasha and 36-year-old Kanticha Sukpengpanao before taking his own life.

But around an hour before the grim discovery, officers did not attend the scene after the father is understood to have phoned the police.

The rollout was postponed while an investigation was carried out by His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.

But Mr Davison said it was not possible to say whether any outcome would have been different under the new scheme.

He said: "The truth is, we do not know. Not all of the information about the case is out there yet due to the Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation and that will report back in due course.

"This was a horrible, horrible incident that took place and when the full facts are out there it will be appropriate to answer that question."