Working with police to support vulnerable people

After a successful pilot project within Cleveland Police, our service, supporting vulnerable individuals in the criminal justice system is continuing to be delivered and has been extended to cover Durham Constabulary.

14/05/2015 

After a successful pilot project within Cleveland Police, our service, supporting vulnerable individuals in the criminal justice system is continuing to be delivered and has been extended to cover Durham Constabulary.

We have been commissioned by NHS England, to test a new model of liaison and diversion. The model aims to make sure individuals with a vulnerability are given the right treatment and support at the earliest possible stage in the criminal justice system.

Mental health nurses and other professionals are working in police custody suites and courts to identify and assess a mental health problem, substance misuse, learning difficulty or other vulnerability any individual may have. Those identified are then supported through the criminal justice system by the liaison and diversion team and referred for treatment or support services if needed.

The service was originally part of the first 10 trial schemes commissioned by NHS England from April 2014 and has now been extended to cover both Darlington and Durham police stations.

The all age liaison and diversion service aims to work jointly with the police and courts to help adults and young people who have entered the criminal justice system and are suspected to have a mental health issue or learning disability to get the right treatment at the right time.  It is hoped that this collaborative approach will help to reduce re-offending.

Lisa Taylor, head of offender health and community services said: “We are dedicated to the provision of excellent mental health services and working closely with local police and courts will give offenders with mental ill health or a learning disability the opportunity to get the right treatment as quickly as possible. We have been working very well with Cleveland Police and are very much looking forward to working in partnership with Durham Constabulary".

Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg, said "The new liaison and diversion scheme receives my full support as this will improve access to health and social care services for people of all ages with mental health issues, drug and alcohol related issues and individuals with learning disabilities, and divert individuals out of the criminal justice system.”

"This should ultimately result in the reduction of offending and re-offending by these individuals and keep our communities safe and improve their outcome."

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “It’s vital that vulnerable people are identified early on in the judicial system so police and partners can offer them appropriate professional support and safeguarding in custody, before and during court and during any bail period afterwards.

“We have helped and supported many people in custody who have learning or communication difficulties, mental health issues, or substance misuse problems among others. Liaison and diversion is in its early stages however the signs are promising, 97% of young people accepted, when offered, liaison and diversion services. Taking a holistic approach to helping vulnerable people not only benefits them, but the agencies supporting them and the wider community".