The announcement of the approval by Ministers of the Full Business Case marks an important milestone in the rollout of Health & Justice Liaison & Diversion services.
This is an exciting time to build on the success of the Liaison & Diversion services that currently cover over 50% of the population of England, providing early intervention for vulnerable people, adults, children and their families that have been identified within the criminal justice system within police custody, the youth justice system or the magistrate and crown courts.
The government announcement of an additional £12million funding over the next two years enabling coverage to at least 75% and, subject to evaluation, roll out to 100% for 2021 is an important moment for not only the increased parity of mental health services within the criminal justice system but also for the continuation of improved access, integration and requirements for physical health and the approach of care not custody, care in custody, care after custody.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at an event with a member of the Lived Experience Team who has been involved from day one in supporting, advising and developing Liaison & Diversion services as part of the voice of service users and their families.
The powerful story he recalled of his personal journey and experience, thanking Liaison & Diversion services for ‘sticking with him’, emphasised how intervention from healthcare at the right time in a criminal justice setting helps to motivate and reassure people and can change a person’s future for the better.
Many of the audience praised the work of Liaison & Diversion teams and the multi-agency approach that they have noticed in their geographical areas. They noted the importance of healthcare interventions within the criminal justice system and also the need to ensure a person centred approach when supporting this group of vulnerable individuals that are often in and out of healthcare services.
Over the coming months and years the development and extension of Liaison & Diversion services across England will enable healthcare colleagues and partners in the criminal justice system to work together to ensure quality healthcare, early intervention and the reduction of risk, including suicide and self-harm.
We know there are many challenges in developing our services across England, for example the increase in substance misuse, including new psychoactive substances, and problematic alcohol use, as well as complex trauma and often physical healthcare issues which have been previously undetected.
The government’s announcement is an important development to support the reduction of health inequalities and to bring about improvements in rehabilitation.