An extra £25m of funding for mental health nurses and other mental health professionals to work with police stations and courts, has been announced by the government.
The money will be invested over the next year to join police forces and courts with mental health nurses and other services. People with mental health problems, learning disabilities and substance misusers will receive treatment as soon as possible which will also help to reduce the risk of reoffending.
Mental health nurses support police officers when they are out on patrol, assist officers when they are responding to emergency calls and give advice to staff in police control rooms.
Peter Carter, the chief executive of the RCN, welcomed the additional funding. 'Having more nurses in liaison and diversion services will improve the healthcare that people in the criminal justice system receive and it will also support the police's public protection work.'
Many people who go to prison have a mental health problem, a substance misuse problem or a learning disability.
Care and support minister, Norman Lamb, said he wanted to ensure that offenders with mental health illnesses received effective care at the earliest stage. 'Diverting the individual away from offending and helping to reduce the risk of more victims suffering due to further offences benefits everyone.'
Ten areas nationwide will be testing out a new model of liason and diversion services to ensure service quality is consistent.
The areas receiving the funding are: Merseyside, London, Avon and Wiltshire, Leicester, Sussex, Dorset, Sunderland and Middlesborough, Coventry, South Essex, and Wakefield.
These services will be evaluated and, if successful, extended to the rest of the country by 2017.
Initial reports from established street triage schemes in Leicestershire and Cleveland have shown that providing mental health support as early on as possible can help to keep people out of custody and reduce demands on police time.