About liaison and diversion

Liaison and Diversion (L&D) services identify people who have mental health, learning disability, substance misuse or other vulnerabilities when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system as suspects, defendants or offenders.

The service can then support people through the early stages of criminal system pathway, refer them for appropriate health or social care or enable them to be diverted away from the criminal justice system into a more appropriate setting, if required.

L&D services aim to improve overall health outcomes for people and to support people in the reduction of re-offending. It also aims to identify vulnerabilities in people earlier on which reduces the likelihood that people will reach a crisis-point and helps to ensure the right support can be put in place from the start.

Watch this short video which explains how L&D services work

National standard L&D service specification

The latest national service specification outlines how services can provide a consistent and high quality approach across England. You can view the full service specification and operating model. Please note this model and specification are currently being trialled and therefore marked as draft documents until the evaluation of the trial is complete.

The main things that L&D services do for the people they see are identification, screening, assessment and referral to other services. These are explained below.

Identification: Criminal justice agencies working at the Police and Courts stages of the pathway are trained to recognise possible signs of vulnerability in people when they first meet them. They then alert their local L&D service about the person.

Screening: Once someone is identified as having a potential vulnerability, the L&D practitioner can go through screening questions to identify the need, level of risk and urgency presented. It also helps determine whether further assessment is required.

Assessment:  Using approved screening and assessment tools an L&D practitioner will undertake a more detailed assessment of the person’s vulnerability. This provides more information on a person’s needs and also whether they should be referred on for treatment or further support.

Referral:  The L&D practitioner may refer someone to appropriate mainstream health and social care services or other relevant interventions and support services that can help. A person is also supported to attend their first appointment with any new services and the outcomes of referrals are recorded. L&D services will also provide a route to treatment for people whose offending behaviour is linked to their illness or vulnerability.

The police, probation and the judiciary make decisions based on the evidence and information presented to them. L&D services record all information about a person’s health needs and share these with relevant agencies so they can make informed decisions about case management, sentencing and disposal options.

Background to the L&D Programme

The Programme came about because of the Bradley Report (2009). Lord Bradley was asked by the Government to consider ways to divert people with mental health problems and other vulnerabilities away from the criminal justice system. He undertook a review and then recommended that the Government should develop and improve Liaison and Diversion Services to help these people.

Watch this short video about L&D service roll out after the Bradley Report, featuring Lord Bradley.

The L&D Programme was created in 2010 and has developed into a strong cross-government initiative, with partners from:

  • Department of Health
  • NHS England
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Youth Justice Board
  • HM Courts and Tribunals Service
  • Public Health England
  • Offender Health Collaborative
  • Bradley Review Group
  • National Offender Management Service
  • Crown Prosecution Service

L&D services currently cover 68% of the population of England. The decision in 2016 of Her Majesty’s Treasury to back the Full Business Case by releasing an additional £12 million permits further expansion of L&D in 2016/17 and 2017/18. We are currently working with our commissioners to plan the continued rollout. By April 2018 we aim to have reached at least 75% coverage of the population.

Get involved

Please subscribe to the L&D bulletin to  receive regular updates and news from the programme.

You can also send in case studies on how your area is operating the standard service specification to be included in the bulletin and on the website.

You can contact the L&D central team if you have any questions.

Explore the L&D pages  to read the latest news and find other useful information and resources.