Liaison and Diversion in police and court settings

Liaison and diversion services are designed to improve the health and justice outcomes for adults and children who come into contact with the youth and criminal justice systems where a range of complex needs are identified as factors in their offending behaviour.

Delivering against NHS England’s National Liaison and Diversion Operating Model, our liaison and diversion practitioners assess the needs of vulnerable individuals in magistrates’ courts, crown courts and police custody settings, working closely with a wide range of partners to ensure that these individuals have access to the right health and social care services. Our Criminal Justice Community Link Workers work alongside individuals throughout the criminal justice pathway to help them engage or re-engage with relevant services to tackle things like housing, addictions or debt, as well as their mental wellbeing. By helping people tackle the underlying causes of their offending, the likelihood of reoffending can be significantly reduced.

We also prepare reports for court to give the judiciary vital information to help with decisions about bail and remand. This helps to avoid unnecessary prison disposals where bail decisions or a community sentence would be more appropriate, again giving individuals the best chance of breaking the cycle of offending. We also provide mental health awareness training to probation and other frontline criminal justice staff.

 “We see many individuals with mental health needs, and the fact that specialists are able to help at court, and having all the information available including Together’s reports, means the court is able to sentence effectively. No one in the courts wants to punish ineffectively, so it is vital that people with mental health issues are given the help and support they need.” Andrew Edwards JP, Magistrate

In several locations, we have dedicated provision for women to ensure that we identify vulnerable women as early as possible. This means we can provide courts with information about their health and social care needs, and refer them to services in the community, including to specialist support. We work closely with local women’s centres and other agencies, including those working with victims of domestic violence and abuse.

“When I came to court, I was at my lowest ebb and had suicidal thoughts. The women’s practitioner changed everything, she made me feel comfortable and safe, I could open up to her. She turned everything around for me, got me help and support. She changed my life.” Service user

I am still struggling with everything that has happened, but I have so many people helping me now, I have a long way to go but I don’t feel alone any more, I’m so grateful.”  Service user

Together currently delivers liaison and diversion services across London. In April 2014 and April 2015 respectively, Together was also chosen by NHS England as one of the lead delivery partners for phases one and two of the London trial site for Liaison and Diversion (two of 20 trial sites in the initiative led by NHS England to roll out Liaison and Diversion services nationally).

The first phase of the site sees specialist liaison and diversion teams based in 13 custody suites and seven courts in North, East and North East London, while phase two covers ten custody suites, six magistrates’ courts and two crown courts across West, North West and Central London. The total population covered by both sites is 4.5 million people.

We are delivering phase one of the trial in partnership with Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health Trust, East London NHS Foundation Trust and North East London NHS Foundation Trust.

Phase two is delivered in partnership with West London Mental Health NHS Trust, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust and Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust.

We are also supporting the delivery of the trial site in South Yorkshire through a partnership with Rotherham, Doncaster & South Humber (RDASH) NHS Foundation Trust.

In addition to our Liaison and Diversion projects in the trial sites, we have provision in additional police and court settings in London. For more information about all our Liaison and Diversion services in London, please contact Caroline Williams on 020 7780 7340.