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New service provides expert help for vulnerable people

Vulnerable people in Suffolk are receiving help to access additional support to get their lives back on track should they be arrested thanks to a new service provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

The Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion service (CJLD) was launched in April by NSFT working alongside partners Julian Support and military charity Walking With The Wounded.

It offers valuable support for people who are attending police investigation centres or courts and are experiencing housing or financial problems or have vulnerabilities such as mental health issues, substance misuse or learning disabilities. This could include onward referral into services provided by NSFT, local GPs or social services, as well as help with education and employment.

The year-long trial has been funded with £1.3m from NHS England and sees team members based in police investigation centres and courts across Suffolk so that they can quickly identify people who could benefit from help.

Those with a military background can be referred to Walking With The Wounded's Project Nova initiative, which supports veterans who have become caught up in petty crime back into mainstream society. Others may work with Julian Support, who will help them access support from other agencies or existing community resources.

The enhanced service will soon operate seven days a week, providing a 24 hour access service where demand requires, and caters for people of all ages. It builds on NSFT's previous existing liaison and diversion service, which was aimed at adults and operated during office hours.

Ian Trenholm, Operational Lead for Liaison and Diversion at the Trust, said: "We are delighted to be working with our partners to extend our existing services for this vulnerable group and are pleased the service has been well-received during its first few weeks of operation.

"From their bases in police stations and courts, the CJLD team is identifying anyone with a vulnerability which may lead to offending and talking through the options available to them. They are then referred onwards to the appropriate service providers so that they can receive support as they move through the criminal justice system and into the right mental health or social care service.

"This is not only improving their quality of life by giving them the help they need to boost their health, but is also reducing the likelihood they will re-offend or reach crisis point. As well as having a big impact on the individual, this will bring benefits to the wider community by keeping people out of prison and helping to reduce offending."

Rachel Omori, Head of Operations with Julian Support, said: "We support individuals to use their strengths and resources within the community to manage their offending behaviour and improve their quality of life.

"We are very pleased to be an integral part of this new service and look forward to continue working with our partners to make a real difference to people who need support."

Fergus Williams, Director of Operations at Walking With The Wounded, said: "Project Nova is a unique programme, intervening when veterans first come into contact with the police service. Working very closely with the police, the programme seeks to identify the causes of their actions and address the underlying issues. Such intervention will aim to halt a downward spiral and reduce the likelihood of them reoffending.

"We are delighted to be part of this new service which will help those who need the support to get them back into mainstream society and long term independence."

County policing commander chief superintendent Jon Brighton said: "As a police service, we come into contact with people suffering from mental ill health or a mental health crisis on a daily basis. These are vulnerable people who need specific care, and it is essential that along with our partners, we are making sure that the services we provide are right.

"The introduction of the L&D service into our custody centres is an excellent step forward in further achieving this. By intervening with support at this initial stage of contact, we can ensure that vulnerable people can be offered the services they need to prevent them reaching points of crisis again.

"The service allows us to better work together, improving the support provided to those who need it, whilst reducing demand on our resources by ensuring the correct professionals provide the most appropriate response at the right time."​