Mental health nurses support people in custody in Leicestershire police stations

  • A £450,000 scheme has been launched which will see round-the-clock mental health nursing support for people in police custody.

    The project will pilot in Leicestershire and provide support to people appearing in youth and adult courts. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    The funding has come from the Department of Health and is one of ten national schemes announced by the minister for care and support, Norman Lamb, reports the Leicester Mercury.

    The all-age liaison and diversion service is being run by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust alongside Leicestershire Police and the county's probation service.

    Nursing staff will be on site from 8am to 10pm and on call outside of those hours.

    The scheme will be trialled for a year and means that there will be an increased specialist support for children and young people as well as people with learning disabilities, particularly autism and older people with mental health issues.

    Matthew Wakely, who leads the criminal justice and liaison service for the health trust, said: "We will provide a pool of experienced mental health practitioners who will be based at Euston Street, Keyham Lane and Beaumont Leys police stations providing cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The team also provides support to adult and youth court hearings and to the probation service. It means people with mental ill health, learning disabilities and substance misuse problems can get timely help to assess their condition when they come into contact with the criminal justice system, either in a police station, through the courts or in the community. They can then get timely access to appropriate care, both to improve their mental health and potentially to help them avoid further contact with the criminal justice system in the future. This is an expansion of work we started in 2012 to provide specialist mental health nurses in magistrates' courts and custody suites."

    Chief Inspector Chris Cockerill, who is managing the project for Leicestershire Police, said: "Just over a fifth of the 24,000 people a year who come into our custody suites declare a mental health condition. The new custody service expands our innovative partnership with Leicestershire Partnership trust, which has already brought significant benefits to people with mental health issues. This project is an important step towards ensuring their condition is not the reason they keep returning. They can be signposted to services which might treat their condition and reduce their likelihood of experiencing a crisis. We are helping to shape a system which will eventually cover all of England and Wales."

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