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Mental health nurses to be posted in police stations

Mental health nurses will be posted in police stations and courts as part of a £25 million pilot scheme to improve people's treatment. 

Nurse duties will include helping police officers to answer calls as well as identifying people who may have problems. 

The government's ten-year scheme has been welcomed by mental health campaigners. 

According to the Department of Health, most people in prison have a mental health problem, substance misuse problem or learning disability. A quarter has a severe mental health illness such as depression or psychosis. 

And police officers spend an estimated 15%-25% of their time dealing with suspects who have mental health problems. 

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb (pictured) 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.” 

Over the coming year the funding will be available to provide links between the police, courts and mental health services in Avon and Wiltshire, Coventry, Dorset, Leicester, London, Merseyside, South Essex, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, Sussex and Wakefield.

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."

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Nurses bring vital skills and knowledge to these complex and challenging cases and we know that the police greatly value working in partnership with nursing staff. Having more nurses in liaison and diversion services will improve the health care that people in the criminal justice system receive and it will also support the police's public protection work.”