Better support for people in the criminal justice system

Posted on 3rd July, 2013

Devon Partnership NHS Trust has secured funding to provide a new service that will help to identify and support people with mental health needs who find themselves within the local criminal justice system.  The new Devon Liaison and Diversion Service will become fully operational next month and operate across the whole of the county, including Torbay and Plymouth.  Commenting on the new service, Project manager Karla Wilson-Palmer, said:  “We have worked hard with our new commissioners and colleagues from the police, probation and criminal courts to understand what more can be done to support people with mental health needs, a learning disability or a drug or alcohol problem.   Research tells us that many people with these issues can go through expensive court processes, get stuck in the system, be imprisoned unnecessarily or continue to experience difficulties in their local communities.  “The new service will help to reduce offending through diverting people with mental health or related needs away from the criminal justice system and providing them with specialist support.   We also expect it to reduce the number of arrests and the number of appearances in custody and court.” Tim Francis, Adult Mental Health Commissioning Manager for NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, added:  “As well as saving time and money and helping people to get the specialist support they need, we will now have far more accurate information shared between all of the agencies involved.  We will also have a far clearer, more responsive system for identifying people with potential issues and minimising their contact with the criminal justice system.” A qualified Senior Mental Health Practitioner will be available to assess any defendant or detainee who is believed to have mental health, learning disability, alcohol or substance misuse issues.  The service will be available for people of any age appearing in criminal courts between Monday and Friday (excluding bank holidays) 8am-6pm.  Within police custody, the service will be accessible to anyone who has been arrested on suspicion of committing an offence.  The new service will operate at:
Barnstaple Police Custody and Barnstaple Magistrates’ and Crown Courts
Exeter Police Custody and Exeter Magistrates’ and Crown Courts
Torquay Police Custody and Torquay Magistrates’ Courts
Plymouth Police Custody and Plymouth Magistrates’ and Crown Courts.