One of the things we found, and one of the things that we've always thought, is that if you can intervene early, you decrease the need for crisis intervention, so our team was very straightforward. It was community based. For every person who we saw, they and their family were given a telephone number that they could call any time, and we would go to see them. Yes, we did all the crisis calls. Yes, they called us first, rather than the police, and, yes, we went out to see them. Over the three to four years I was there, none of our staff were injured and none of our clients were injured. That didn't happen.
Some of that is because we are experts in de-escalation, and we are experts in dealing with mental health crises, and some of it is because people knew who we were, and that makes a difference. But a lot of it was because we saw people earlier in their diseases and earlier in their problems. Rather than waiting until things got so acute that people were ringing the police, families were ringing us early and we were going to see people, and we were decreasing the problem.
Community mental health services properly deployed are very important and they work. Yes, we did have problems when people were very disturbed, and we needed to have the police as backup, though we led the response. The police would be in the car outside, and if we needed them, we called them in. We had them there, but we never had anybody put in handcuffs and taken away. Part of the reason for this is that it is traumatic, and even if it's done and the person doesn't get hurt, you then have to deal with the trauma.
That's what we did. It worked well. It expanded across London. It's the way things were done at that time.