policeThirteen new trial liaison and diversion (L&D) schemes are to launch in April 2015 to place mental health professionals in police stations and courts.  

L&D 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 referred into health and other services to get the treatment or support they need.

These new schemes will join the existing 10 areas that have been taking part in a 2-year trial that began in April 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 next April. 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 re-offending, 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 more than 8,400 children, young people and adults come through the service while going through the justice process.

The 13 additional schemes will be:

Northamptonshire Criminal Justice Team – whole of Northamptonshire

South Yorkshire Liaison & Diversion Service – whole of South Yorkshire

Peninsula Criminal Justice Liaison & Diversion Service (Courts & Custody) – whole of Devon and Cornwall

Avon and Somerset Court/Custody Assessment & Advice Service – extending to the whole of Somerset

Lancashire Care Liaison and Diversion Scheme – whole of Lancashire

Black Country Liaison and Diversion Service – Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton

Hampshire Criminal Justice Liaison Diversion Service – Portsmouth, Southampton and South West Hampshire

Thames Valley Liaison and Diversion Service – although this only covers Oxfordshire

Surrey Criminal Justice and Liaison Diversion Service – whole of Surrey

Police Custody Liaison and Court Diversion Service– whole of Kent and Medway

West, North West and Central London Police & Court Liaison and Diversion Service

Norfolk and Suffolk Liaison and Diversion Service – whole of Norfolk and Suffolk

Nottinghamshire Criminal Justice Liaison Service – whole of Nottinghamshire.

Kate Davies OBE, national director for health & justice, Armed Forces and Public Health at NHS England, said: “Extending the liaison and diversion scheme to 13 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 re-offending and saving lives.”

Health Minister Norman Lamb added: “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.

“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.”