Another thirteen trial schemes are to launch in April 2015 to place mental health professionals in police stations and courts. These schemes aim to ensure people who come into the criminal justice system with mental health conditions, learning disabilities and other vulnerabilities are recognised and are promptly referred into health and other services to get the treatment or support they need.
These new schemes, called Liaison and Diversion (L & D) will join the existing ten areas that have been taking part in a two year trial that began in April 2014, to join up police and courts with mental health services. This will mean half of the English population will be covered by such schemes from April 2015. The model will be independently evaluated to inform a business case for services to cover all of the English population by 2017/18.
By identifying someone brought into a police station or involved in court proceedings who may have a mental health problem or other vulnerabilities, L & D schemes can ensure an individual is supported through the criminal justice system and into the right mental health or social care service. It can also help the police and courts to do their jobs by providing up-to-date information on a person's state of mind; as well as benefit the individual's health, contribute to a reduction in reoffending, and reduce the likelihood that the individual will reach crisis-point.
For many offenders who have a mental health issue or vulnerability, prison can make their situation worse. Nearly half of all prisoners have anxiety or depression, and nearly a third of all 13-18 year olds who offend have a mental health issue.
The new model has already seen over 8,400 children, young people and adults come through the service while going through the justice process.
The new L & D schemes are now delivering a service to everyone who needs it regardless of their age. Services are available 24/7 and ensure that across the trial areas they will be provided with the same level of care and service.
The thirteen additional schemes will be:
Kate Davies OBE, National Director for Health & Justice, Armed Forces and Public Health at NHS England said:
"Extending the liaison and diversion scheme to thirteen more areas in England is a major step in getting more people who find themselves in the criminal justice system the help they need with mental health problems often at a time of crisis. This will be crucial for their long term health and wellbeing as well as reducing reoffending and saving lives."
Health Minister Norman Lamb said:
"I want to build a fairer society where vulnerable people get the care they need. Liaison and Diversion is an excellent example of different organisations working together to turn lives around and I'm delighted that this work is expanding. No other country in the world is doing this on the scale that we are pursuing. It is a really exciting programme."
Policing Minister Mike Penning said:
"Improving the way people with mental health problems are treated by police is a priority for this government. Police officers should not have to be called to provide medical treatment for those suffering a crisis. Their role is to cut crime, and health professionals are best placed to give those that need it the proper health care and support.
"That is why this government has implemented liaison and diversion and street triage schemes, developed a national Crisis Care Concordat and will shortly publish its review of sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act. These initiatives are working: in street triage pilot areas the number of people being detained under the Mental Health Act has fallen by an average of 25%.
"Liaison and diversion plays a vital role in ensuring people with mental health problems receive the most appropriate support when they come into contact with the police - under the scheme over 8,000 people have already been treated by a mental health professional."
Andrew Selous, Minister for Prisons, Probation and Rehabilitation said:
"Identifying and addressing mental health needs for offenders is a vital part of our wider efforts to reduce reoffending. Our aim is to ensure that any offender who needs it can have mental health treatment equivalent to the best they would receive in the community. We are working closely with the Department of Health to concentrate expertise in a way that means we can deliver the best possible treatment for those within our Criminal Justice System."