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Table 1 The Connect trial

From: Undertaking a randomised controlled trial in the police setting: methodological and practical challenges

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of a mental health training package for frontline officers relative to routine training
Design: A pragmatic, two-armed, cluster-randomised controlled trial, in a police force in the North of England. Twelve police stations were randomised, to receive the mental health training package (n = 6) or routine training (n = 6). Training for police officers is mandatory and so following approval from the police force, participation in the training was compulsory for eligible frontline officers reporting to stations that were allocated to receive the intervention. Three hundred and sixty officers were put forward for training, of whom 249 received the intervention.
Intervention: In addition to routine training, officers in the intervention group received a 1-day specialised mental health training package, delivered by mental health professionals. The training aimed to improve officers’ understanding of, and ability to: identify mental vulnerability; record relevant information using available systems; respond using appropriate internal and external resources; refer vulnerable people into services to provide longer-term assistance; and review incidents to make sure that risks have been effectively managed
Control: Officers in the control group were not informed of their allocation and did not receive any additional training outside of mandatory routine mental health training provided to all North Yorkshire officers (NYP). Mandatory routine mental health training for all NYP police officers includes: basic mental health law; specific NYP procedures around mental health and responding to incidents involving individuals with mental health problems; and a separate 2-3 hour online basic mental health training package.
Blinding: Due to the nature of the intervention, it was not feasible to blind police stations or individual police officers to the group they were allocated to; however, stations and officers allocated to the control group were not explicitly informed of their allocation
Outcome measures: The primary outcome was the number of incidents which resulted in a police response reported to the NYP control room over a 1-month period, 6 months after delivering training. Secondary outcomes included: likelihood of incidents having Section 136 of the Mental Health Act applied; likelihood of incidents having a mental health tag applied; and number of individuals with a mental health warning marker involved in any incident.
Trial status: Completed