A scheme that sees mental health nurses work alongside police officers to support people with mental health conditions and learning disabilities while in police custody or court has been expanded to cover around half of England’s population.
The NHS England initiative began its two-year trial in April 2014 and has now more than doubled the number of teams providing the service.
It now offers 26 “liaison and diversion” teams covering around 28.5 million people in England, up from the 10 teams the initiative launched with last year, according to NHS England.
“The results so far have proven how [this service] can dramatically change people’s lives”
During the first 12 months, the service helped 16,315 adult cases and 2,450 children and young people’s cases access specialist support when in contact with the criminal justice system.
The teams carry out a detailed review of the person’s needs before referring them to support or treatment services, such as local authority alcohol support services, drug services and support, anger management support services or referral for children safeguarding.
NHS England said people helped in the first year of the scheme had shown “significant improvements” in behaviour, reducing their re-offending rates and keeping appointments to services.
Kate Davies, head of health and justice, armed forces and public health at NHS England, said: “This expansion is a big milestone for liaison and diversion services because we are now reaching out to so many people.
“The results from the first wave of 10 show just how in demand these services really are and the results so far have proven how it can dramatically change people’s lives,” she said.
NHS England said the liaison and diversion model would be independently evaluated before possible expansion to cover all of the English population by 2017-18.