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A trial scheme testing a new model of Liaison and Diversion (L&D) is launched this week in ten locations across England. The scheme will fund mental health professionals in police stations and courts, to ensure people with mental health conditions and learning disabilities are recognised and get the right treatment promptly.
As announced in January by the Department of Health, £25 million will be invested in police stations and courts across the country. Ten trial schemes, commissioned by NHS England, will run for 12 months and if successful the model will be extended to all areas. The scheme aims to cover the population of England by 2017.
L&D services aim to identify, assess and refer people with mental health, learning disability, substance misuse and social vulnerabilities into treatment or support services, when they first come into contact with the police and criminal justice system. Almost one third of young people between the ages of 13 and 18 who offend have a mental health need and almost half of adult prisoners suffer from anxiety and or depression compared to 15% of the general population. By getting this support at an early stage it can reduce the likelihood that they will reach crisis point as well as helping to reduce re-offending and contact with the police.
The areas across England that have been selected to test the new model are: London, Wakefield, Coventry, Merseyside, South Essex, Sussex, Leicestershire, Dorset, Sunderland/Middlesborough and Bristol. During the trial period schemes will develop a range of L&D activities such as improving youth provision towards an all age service, providing services at all times to reflect need and developing partnerships between judiciary, police and mental health agencies.
NHS England is working with Government Departments and other agencies such as the Department of Health, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, the Offender Health Collaborative and the Bradley Review Group to test out this new way of working.
Kate Davies OBE – Head of Health & Justice, Armed Forces and Public Health direct commissioning at NHS England, said: “From 1 April these services mark an achievement in providing better healthcare and support for those who need it the most. Whether it is a son, daughter, friend or neighbour, all vulnerable people in contact with police or courts will in future receive the same support and service despite where they are in England. The 10 schemes trialling the new model have started to make this change and improvement of these services a reality so that vulnerable people can receive the treatment and support that they desperately need.”
Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, said: “I am committed to improving mental health care for everyone. I want to build a fairer society and that’s why we’ve invested £25 million in this valuable scheme to make sure people with mental health problems who come in to contact with the criminal justice system get the support they need at the right time. It is encouraging to see progress being made with the 10 local area pilot schemes and I look forward to personally visiting one of these services at some point in the near future.”
Policing Minister Damian Green said: “The Home Secretary and I have made it a priority to improve hugely the way people with mental health issues are dealt with when they come into contact with the police.
“Where people with mental health problems are arrested by the police it is vital they receive appropriate care while in custody and this is best provided by health professionals.”