Extra funding for mental health nurses to be based at police stations

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Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, announces £25 million of funding to join up police and courts with mental health services.

An extra £25 million of funding for mental health nurses and other mental health professionals to work with police stations and courts so that people with mental health and substance misuse problems get the right treatment as quickly as possible, and which helps reduce re-offending has been announced by the Government today.

The majority of people who end up in prison have a mental health problem, a substance misuse problem or a learning disability and one in four has a severe mental health illness, such as depression or psychosis. The money announced today will be invested over the next year in joining up police and courts with mental health and other services so that people with mental health illnesses, learning disabilities and substance misuse problems receive the treatment they need at the earliest possible stage.

Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, said:

“ Too often people with mental health illnesses who come into contact with the criminal justice system are 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. “ That’s why we are investing £25 million for liaison and diversion services at police services and courts across the country. These will help identify when someone in a police station or involved in court proceedings who has mental health problems are referred to the right mental health services and are given the help and support they need.”   Ten areas across the country will be testing out a new model of in Liaison and Diversion services to ensure quality of services are consistent across the board regardless of where someone is.

The ten areas receiving the funding are:

Merseyside; London; Avon and Wiltshire; Leicester;’ Sussex; Dorset; Sunderland and Middlesbrough; Coventry; South Essex; and Wakefield.

These services will be evaluated and if successful, extended to the rest of the country by 2017. This will mean people with mental health illnesses, substance misuse problems and learning disabilities who are suspected of committing an offence and come into contact with the police will have an assessment of their health needs, including mental health, which will be shared with police and the courts. This information may be shared with police and the courts to help ensure decisions made about charging and sentencing take into consideration an individual’s health needs. It will also mean treatment is given sooner which will help stop re-offending.

Policing Minister Damian Green said:

“Police officers should be focused on fighting crimes and people with mental health conditions should get the care they need as early as possible.

“These pilots will not only ensure that happens but in the longer term will help drive down reoffending by individuals who, with the right kind of treatment, can recover fully.”   Kate Davies OBE – National Director for Health & Justice, Armed Forces and Public Health commissioning at NHS England, said:

“We fully support this initiative. High quality liaison and diversion services will mean better outcomes for patients and for the criminal justice system by reducing health inequalities and re-offending.

“The liaison and diversion programme is key to ensuring early help and treatment for adults and young people. Seven day assessments from police custody and courts, often at a time of crisis, has already reduced re-offending and saved lives.”

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