Mental health staff are to be placed in police stations and courts around the UK as part of a pilot scheme that attempts to cut reoffending rates.
The £25 million scheme is being trialled in areas around the UK including London and Merseyside, and if successful could be extended nationwide by 2017. The "liaison and diversion" services have already shown promising outcomes from trials in Leicestershire and Cleveland.
The move comes amid estimations that police officers spend 15-25% of their time dealing with suspects with mental health problems. The Department of Health assert that many prisoners suffer from some form of mental health problem, a substance misuse problem or a learning disability, and one in four has a severe mental health illness such as depression or psychosis.
Through correct diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues, it is hoped that reoffending rates will be significantly reduced, not only benefiting the quality of live for these individuals, but also reducing
Commenting on the initiative, Policing Minister Damian Green said: "Police officers should be focused on fighting crimes and people with mental health conditions should get the care they need as early as possible.These pilots will not only ensure that happens but, in the longer term, will help drive down reoffending by individuals who, with the right kind of treatment, can recover fully."
Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: "All too often, the way our criminal justice system deals with people with mental health problems leads to poor outcomes for individuals, frustration from police officers, magistrates and others, and such a waste of resources as people are needlessly sent to prison through a failure to respond to some of the underlying issues in their lives.”
"We welcome this initiative, which has the potential to stop people going unnecessarily to prison, reduce reoffending rates and save millions in taxpayers' money.
Original Source BBC News
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