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Extra mental health staff for police stations and courts in £800k investment

Sandwell | News | Published:

Extra mental health staff will work at police stations and courts in the Black Country in an £800,000 investment.

NHS England has commissioned the cash in a bid to better care for those in need.

The investment - part of a Government pilot scheme - was welcomed by NHS bosses in the Black Country.

The Liaison and Diversion service is being rolled out across Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell, with seven extra staff being hired.

It will see mental health personnel work with people of all ages with mental health problems, a learning disability, substance misuse problems and other vulnerabilities.

They are identified and assessed as they pass through the youth and criminal justice systems.

The new service aims to divert people away from crime and into health and care services provided by the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.

The two trust put together a joint bid for the £800,000 investment.

Melvena Anderson, general manager of mental health at the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We have worked closely with service users and partner organisations to develop this new service in line with NHS England's standard service specifications.

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"We will continue to work with them to ensure that when someone in a police station, or involved in court proceedings, has a mental health problem or other vulnerabilities, they are referred to the right services and are given support and guidance based on their needs."

This pilot is part of a second wave of trial schemes commissioned by NHS England.

The pilot schemes will be evaluated and, if successful, extended to the rest of the country by 2017.

It is hoped the information on people assessed will help ensure decisions made about charging and sentencing take into consideration a person's mental health needs.

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It will also mean treatment is given sooner to help reduce re-offending.

Becki Hipkins, Liaison and Diversion project leader, said: "We are delighted that Black Country is one of the national trial sites for Liaison and Diversion and to have the opportunity to demonstrate positive outcomes from work in our local community.

"We remain committed to working with police and court colleagues to identify and divert vulnerable adults and young people with mental health and other vulnerabilities from the criminal justice system and offending behaviour into mental health treatment and support services.

"We strive to improve mental health and wellbeing across all age groups and reduce offending rates through providing early intervention and referring people to a range of health and care services."

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