£5m plan to divert mental health clients from prison

Health secretary Andrew Lansley and justice secretary Ken Clarke (pictured) have launched a pilot £5m programme to help divert offenders with mental health problems away from prison.

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A pilot £5m programme to help divert offenders with mental health problems away from prison has been unveiled.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley and justice secretary Ken Clarke said the money was for 100 “diversion sites” across England and Wales as part of their plan to create a national liaison and diversion service by 2014.

Lansley announced that £3m would be spent creating a further 40 diversion sites for adults and £2m for up to 60 sites for young people this year.

This was first promoted in Clarke’s Green Paper, Breaking the Cycle, in which the government said it intended to pilot and roll out liaison and diversion services nationally for less serious offenders with mental health problems.

The programme was announced at a joint Prison Reform Trust and Women’s Institute reception in Westminster last night. The WI has been campaigning for an end to the “inappropriate imprisonment” of people with mental health problems since 2008.

Chair Ruth Bond said the WI would be remaining vigilant to ensure there was lasting change.

Clarke said: “It’s a step towards an improved penal regime and a safer public.”

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