Sussex Police, Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have been awarded additional Government funding providing better support for people in police custody with mental health issues.
The additional funding supplied through the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is over £450,000 a year extending support for people with mental health issues, learning disabilities or substance misuse problems in police custody and at court. Through ensuring vulnerable people have access to appropriate support and treatment, re-offending and the number of victims of crime can be reduced.
The money, announced by the Department of Health, is for the existing Criminal Justice Liaison Nurses who are located in each of the six police custody suites in Sussex. This is not a new project as Sussex along with 52 other pilot sites are already funded by the Dept of Health from April 2012 to April 2014. This latest round of funding is for 10 sites (out of the original 52) across the country, including Sussex. With this money the Sussex model will be further tested and improved. By the end of the funding period in April 2015 the Department of Health can then assess whether to roll this out nationally.
The Sussex Police and Court Liaison and Diversion scheme began as a pilot project in 2012. The scheme provides specialist nurses to assess the mental health needs of vulnerable people in police custody or at court from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm during the week. The additional and extended funding means that the service can be extended from 8.00 am to 8.00pm and seven days a week.
Over the first 12 months of the scheme from August 2012 to July 2013:
– 3,264 people in Sussex received an assessment from specialist nurses either in police custody or at court
– 78% of these people had at least one previous conviction
– 32% of these people had more than ten previous convictions
– 70% of the people assessed had a mental health problem such as a depressive illness, schizophrenia or a personality disorder.
Superintendent Julia Pope of Sussex Police said: “We are working closely with the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, who provide the service, and Surrey & Sussex Probation Trust, to ensure its development. We are keen to ensure anyone that comes into our custody who is vulnerable and needs specialist support should receive that help as soon as possible. This extra funding will help to continue to make this a reality. The funding runs until April 2015, when the Department of Health will decide whether to roll out the scheme nationally.”