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Liaison and diversion pilot schemes to be extended next year

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Another 13 trial schemes are to be launched next April in which mental health professionals will be placed in police stations and courts, according to NHS England. 

The new schemes, called liaison and diversion, will join the existing 10 areas that have been taking part in a two year trial that began in April with the aim of joining up police and courts with mental health services.

It will mean half of the English population will be covered by such schemes from April 2015. The model will be independently evaluated to inform a business case for services to cover all of the English population by 2017-18.

“Extending the liaison and diversion scheme is a major step in getting more people… the help they need with mental health problems often at a time of crisis”

Kate Davies

The scheme aims to ensure people who come into the criminal justice system with mental health conditions and learning disabilities are recognised and promptly referred to health or social care services.

In addition, it is designed to help the police and courts by providing up-to-date information on a person’s state of mind, contribute to a reduction in re-offending and reduce the likelihood that the individual will reach crisis-point.

Nearly half of all prisoners have anxiety or depression, and nearly a third of all 13-18 year old who offend have a mental health issue, noted NHS England. 

The 13 additional schemes, which are available 24/7 and provide services for all ages, will be:

  • Northamptonshire Criminal Justice Team whole of Northamptonshire
  • South Yorkshire Liaison & Diversion Service – whole of South Yorkshire
  • Peninsula Criminal Justice Liaison & Diversion Service (Courts & Custody) – whole of Devon and Cornwall
  • Avon and Somerset Court/Custody Assessment & Advice Service – Extending to the whole of Somerset
  • Lancashire Care Liaison and Diversion Scheme whole of Lancashire
  • Black Country Liaison and Diversion Service – Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton
  • Hampshire Criminal Justice Liaison Diversion Service – Portsmouth, Southampton and South West Hampshire
  • Thames Valley Liaison and Diversion Service – although this only covers Oxfordshire
  • Surrey Criminal Justice and Liaison Diversion Service – whole of Surrey
  • Police Custody Liaison and Court Diversion Service– whole of Kent and Medway
  • West, North West and Central London Police & Court Liaison and Diversion Service
  • Norfolk and Suffolk Liaison and Diversion Service – whole of Norfolk and Suffolk
  • Nottinghamshire Criminal Justice Liaison Service – whole of Nottinghamshire

Kate Davies, national director for health and justice, armed forces and public health at NHS England, said: “Extending the liaison and diversion scheme to 13 more areas in England is a major step in getting more people who find themselves in the criminal justice system the help they need with mental health problems often at a time of crisis. 

“This will be crucial for their long term health and wellbeing as well as reducing re-offending and saving lives,” she said.

Health minister Norman Lamb added: “Liaison and diversion is an excellent example of different organisations working together to turn lives around and I’m delighted that this work is expanding.”

Liaison and diversion is a cross departmental programme between the Department of Health, Ministry of Justice and the Home Office and is delivered by NHS England.

The 10 areas that have taken part so far are Merseyside, North East London, Avon and Wiltshire, Leicester, Sussex, Dorset, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, Coventry, South Essex and Wakefield.

The areas taking part in the 13 new schemes were announced yesterday at the national liaison and diversion annual conference in Leeds.

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