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NHS England launches £25m police mental health pilot

A new pilot scheme will fund mental health professionals in police stations and courts to improve the treatment of people with mental health conditions. 

The Department of Health has invested £25 million for ten trial schemes to run for a year. 

If successful the new model of Liaison and Diversion (L&D) will be extended across England, commissioned by NHS England to cover the entire population by 2017. 

L&D services aim to identify, assess and refer people with mental health, learning disability, substance misuse and social vulnerabilities into treatment or support services, when they first come into contact with the police and criminal justice system. 

Almost one third of young people between the ages of 13 and 18 who offend have a mental health need and almost half of adult prisoners suffer from anxiety and or depression compared to 15% of the general population. 

By getting this support at an early stage, the government believes it can reduce the likelihood that they will reach crisis point as well as helping to reduce re-offending and contact with the police.

Kate Davies OBE, head of health and justice, armed forces and public health direct commissioning at NHS England, said: “From 1 April these services mark an achievement in providing better healthcare and support for those who need it the most. 

"The ten schemes trialling the new model have started to make this change and improvement of these services a reality so that vulnerable people can receive the treatment and support that they desperately need.”

Policing Minister Damian Green said: “The Home Secretary and I have made it a priority to improve hugely the way people with mental health issues are dealt with when they come into contact with the police.

“Where people with mental health problems are arrested by the police it is vital they receive appropriate care while in custody and this is best provided by health professionals.”

The areas that have been selected to test the new model are:  

 - London. 

 - Wakefield.

 - Coventry.

 - Merseyside.

 - South Essex.

 - Sussex.

 - Leicestershire.

 - Dorset.

 - Sunderland and Middlesborough.

 - Bristol.