When people with mental health problems come into police custody and the courts, we need to ensure that they are given the right support.

Centre for Mental Health welcomed an announcement by the Government this week of an extra £12 million investment in Liaison & Diversion services, which offer support to people with mental health problems in police stations and courts.

Around 90% of prisoners have some kind of diagnosable mental health problem, and these problems only seem to intensify when placed in custodial settings. Many end up in prison, a high-cost intervention which is inappropriate as a mental health care setting, and ineffective in reducing subsequent offending.

Liaison & Diversion services (which currently cover around 50% of the UK population) assess people in custody and identify where there are mental health or learning disability needs. The further investment means that these services will now cover 75% of the population by 2018, a move that will improve the health of vulnerable people, reduce risk of reoffending and cut the costs of crime.

The Centre’s deputy chief executive, Andy Bell, said, “Liaison and diversion services are vital to ensure people who are arrested or who appear in court are given immediate support for their mental health. They can ensure people get the help they need longer term and improve the workings of the justice system. We look forward to seeing liaison and diversion services in every police station and court in England by 2021.”

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