£25m has been put into a pilot scheme to help ensure people receive the treatment they need and cut reoffending.
Mental health nurses will now be place in police stations and court with a new £25m pilot scheme which has been designed to ensure people receive the treatment they need and to cut reoffending rates.
The scheme will initially be run in ten areas and be rolled out across the rest of the country by 2017 if successful. The scheme was welcomed by mental health campaigners who are confident that it would prove its worth.
Many people who find themselves in prison have a mental health condition, a substance misuse problem or a learning disability and one in four has a severe mental health illness like chronic depression or psychosis, reports the Guardian.
Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: “Too often people with mental health illnesses who come into contact with the criminal justice system are only diagnosed when they reach prison. We want to help them get the right support and treatment as early as possible. Diverting the individual away from offending and helping to reduce the risk of more victims suffering due to further offences benefits everyone.”
The money will made available over the coming year in order to bridge the gap between the police, courts and mental health services. It will be available in Avon and Wiltshire, Coventry, Dorset, Leicester, London, Merseyside, South Essex, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, Sussex and Wakefield.
The Department of Health have said that it would ensure people receive the treatment they need “at the earliest possible stage”. Estimations suggest that police officers spend 15% to 25% of their time dealing with people who have mental health problems.
Policing minister Damian Green said: “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.”
Chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, Paul Jenkins said “There’s immense potential to divert people away from expensive prison sentences,” he said. “But in the short term we might just see it be less hassle for the police in terms of processing people, which will also save money.”
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