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Mental health teams to be based at police stations and courts

09 December 2014

A new trial scheme between west London mental health professionals and the criminal justice system will help people to get the care and treatment they need when they come into the criminal justice system.

West London Mental Health Trust, in partnership with Central and North West London Trust and Together UK, is one of 13 new trial schemes, called liaison and diversion schemes, which will see mental health professionals working in police stations and courts.

The idea behind the scheme is to identify someone brought into a police station or involved in court proceedings who may have a mental health problem or other vulnerabilities, and ensure the individual is supported through the criminal justice system and into the right mental health, social care or support service.

The scheme can also help the metropolitan police and the courts service to ensure access to appropriate services is achieved in a timely manner, that risk in custody is well managed and support is available throughout the criminal justice care pathway to improve the individual’s health. This will also aim to reduce re-offending, and reduce the likelihood that the individual will reach crisis point.

For many offenders who have a mental health issue, prison can make their situation worse. 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.

When the scheme launches in April 2015, trust psychiatrists will be able to enhance the work currently undertaken in magistrate’s courts covering the boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow.

The trust will also provide more mental health custody nurses in the boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow and provide specialist mental health treatment to young people who offend.

Dr Nick Broughton, medical director at the trust, said: “Those of us who work in forensic mental health services know that all too often people with mental health problems end up in the courts and criminal justice system when what they need is the right mental health and social care.

“This scheme will help us to intervene earlier and hopefully prevent mental health problems resulting in offending or re-offending. By having mental health professionals in courts as well as police stations, we will also be able to make sure that mental health needs are addressed during criminal justice procedures. We’re looking forward to working with CNWL and Together UK in this crucial work.”

For more information, contact the press office on 020 8354 8737 / communications@wlmht.nhs.uk