Together bids to help agencies work with mentally-ill offenders

Mental health charity Together has produced a toolkit for criminal justice agencies on working with defendants and offenders with mental health problems.

The document, A common sense approach, is designed to help signpost individuals towards the right care and treatment at any point of their experience within the criminal justice system. It outlines a four-step process for agencies, to:-

  • Identify people with mental health problems by looking for signs such as having difficulty in expressing themselves or seeming distressed, anxious or distracted.
  • Understand the impact of environment on people with mental health problems, including the adverse impact of being in a police station, cells or a court.
  • Ask questions of people to find out more information but to do so in a sensitive manner, avoiding confrontation.
  • Respond to problems by getting in touch with other agencies.

The charity distributed copies of the toolkit at a meeting this week of the London Criminal Justice Board, which brings together agencies across the capital.

The kit has been developed through the charity’s experience of dealing with offenders with mental health problems. Its work was also highlighted as an example of good practice in the government-commissioned Bradley Report on people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system.

Together said that nine out of 10 prisoners have some mental health disorder compared with one in four of the national population.

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