cell doorServices that make mental health assessments available to people who have been arrested are to be expanded over the next two years thanks to a £12 million funding boost from the government.

The funding will see a roll-out of liaison and diversion services in police custody suites and criminal courts across England.

Currently, 50,000 people a year are assessed by liaison and diversion services following arrest, and almost 70% require mental health support. This new funding will extend NHS England liaison and diversion services from 50% population coverage to 75% by 2018.

This money will help people with mental ill health, learning disabilities or autism get the right care in the right place, supporting work between the police and the NHS.

Liaison and diversion services can help ensure fair access to justice, limit the number of court hearings, and avoid costly adjournments and periods on remand. Where appropriate, vulnerable people can be diverted away from the criminal justice system into treatment and care.

Mental health minister Alistair Burt said: “We have made monumental strides in the way we think about and treat mental illness in this country in the last few decades – but people with a mental illness, learning disabilities or autism still need support when they come into contact with the criminal justice system.

“Expanding the successful liaison and diversion scheme will help make sure these factors are taken into account so more vulnerable people have their needs considered.”

The next 2 years will see the service expanded to cover all major urban areas, securing services in the areas of most need. This will build on the successful roll-out of services over the past 2 years that have identified and assessed more than 71,000 adults, children and young people. Subject to evaluation, full roll-out should be achieved by 2020.