MHPF welcomes the Government’s commitment to keep its Care not Custody promise. At a Care not Custody Coalition event in Parliament on Tuesday, Minister of State for Community and Social Care Alistair Burt MP announced government investment of £12million in extending liaison and diversion services across England, including all metropolitan areas, in the next two years, as well as a thorough evaluation which is likely to lead to full roll out of liaison and diversion services in police custody suites and the criminal courts across England by 2020.
Currently 50,000 people a year are assessed by liaison and diversion services following arrest, and almost 70% require mental health support. This vital new funding will extend NHS England liaison and diversion services from 50% population coverage to 75% by 2018. This investment will help people with mental ill health, learning disabilities or autism get the right care in the right place, supporting work between the police and the NHS.
Liaison and Diversion services can help ensure fair access to justice, limit the number of court hearings, and avoid costly adjournments and periods on remand. Where appropriate, vulnerable people can be diverted away from the criminal justice system into treatment and care. The next two years will see the service expanded to cover all major urban areas, securing services in the areas of most need. This will build on the successful roll-out of services over the last two years which have to date identified and assessed over 71,000 vulnerable adults, children and young people.
Kathy Roberts, MHPF Chief Executive, said:
“As the Coalition was established as a result of a tragic death in a prison, the extension of liaison and diversion services is a welcome commitment to ensure an improved and effective response for all men, women and children with mental health needs who are caught up in the criminal justice system. The stark figures* show the importance of moving vulnerable individuals away from the prison system and into a system of appropriate treatment and care, and in turn breaking the cycle of offenders with mental health problems.”
Alistair Burt, Minister of State for Community and Social Care, said:
“We have made monumental strides in the way we think about and treat mental illness in this country in the last few decades – but people with a mental illness, learning disabilities or autism still need support when they come into contact with the criminal justice system. Expanding the successful Liaison and Diversion scheme will help make sure these factors are taken into account so more vulnerable people have their needs considered.”
* – The latest available statistics on people with mental health needs and learning disabilities in the justice system reveal that 26% of women and 16% of men said they had received treatment for a mental health problem in the year before custody; 46% of women in prison and 21% of men have attempted suicide at some point in their lives compared to 6% of the general population; and 20 – 30% of offenders have learning disabilities or difficulties that interfere with their ability to cope with the criminal justice system.