Mental health staff to be based at police stations in bid to cut reoffending

Campaigners say pilot scheme could help prevent people with mental health problems being imprisoned

Mental health staff are to be based in police stations and courts in England as part of a pilot scheme designed to cut reoffending and get people access to treatment.

The psychiatric nurses and other professionals will assess people who come into contact with the police and court system for mental health, substance misuse and learning disability support needs. They will also offer advice to police officers in cases involving mental health.

Ten areas will trial the pilot scheme. If an evaluation finds the approach is successful, it will be extended across the country by 2017, the Department of Health said.

Norman Lamb, the care services minister, said people with mental health issues who enter the criminal justice system are too often only diagnosed when they reach prison.

“We want to help them get the right support and treatment as early as possible. Diverting the individual away from offending and helping to reduce the risk of more victims suffering due to further offences benefits everyone,” said Lamb.

Mental health campaigners welcomed the move and said that effective liason and diversion teams could secure the right support for those who need it.

“Well functioning liaison and diversion services can prevent people with mental health problems from being imprisoned and reduce the likelihood of further offending by putting better support plans in place for people with complex needs,” said Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health.

The ten areas piloting the scheme:

  • Avon and Wiltshire
  • Coventry
  • Dorset
  • Leicester
  • Merseyside
  • South Essex
  • Sunderland and Middlesbrough
  • Sussex
  • Wakefield

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3 Responses to Mental health staff to be based at police stations in bid to cut reoffending

  1. Valerie January 8, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    People with mental health issues do not need prosecuting, they need care. Having RMNs in police stations these people with dementia, schizophrenia, depression or other MH issues can be picked up before they end up in the prison health service care
    A good assessment would also be cost effective

  2. Alan January 9, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    Having been “the responsible adult” I feel this has been an essential need for many years. The person concerned was being questioned for criminal damage, but the person has said their intention was not to damage property. This was missed and as this person had a history of self harm having the intent taken into consideration could have made a significant difference. As it was CAMHS insisted for several years there was nothing wrong with this person, seems odd for when this person was just 3 months past their 18th birthday they were sectioned and subsequently diagnosed with a Borderline Personality Disorder just as their mother had been so diagnosed.
    Recognition may not have made a difference but for me it is an opportunity that should not be ignored. I just hope they use the best ones for the job and not ones who on paper look to be the best.

  3. Rob January 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    This already exists in many areas, it’s called ‘court liaison’ or ‘Criminal Justice Mental Health Team’.
    I wonder why they’re pilotting something that already exists? Could it be so that it appears something is being done?