Mental health workers to be based at Sunderland police stations

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MENTAL health workers will be placed at police stations on Wearside after new funding was secured.

Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust has received £400,000 to support more people with mental health conditions, learning disabilities and other vulnerabilities as they go through the criminal justice system – in a bid to ensure that they get the right treatment as quickly as possible.

The money means health staff will now be working in police stations, magistrates and youth courts in Sunderland to extend their working hours, help new groups of people and create a linked between adult and youth services.

The scheme is also being rolled out in Middlesbrough, after Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust were also given £400,000.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said earlier this year, when the plans were first mooted, that it will mean that people with mental health problems are treated as early as possible.

Julie Dhuny, head of commissioning health and justice for NHS England North East, said: “There are well-documented high levels of health and care needs within youth and adult offender populations.

“By addressing people’s mental health, learning disability, substance misuse and other vulnerabilities when they first come into contact with the youth and adult justice systems, we will be able to improve health outcomes whilst contributing to reductions in future arrests and in the use of police and court time.

“We are delighted to be able to provide further investment in these services for the next 12 months. It’s a great opportunity to build on the positive developments already made by the liaison and diversion services.

“We will continue to work closely with our practitioners and key partners to ensure that all opportunities are seized and we deliver practical, intelligent and innovative approaches to managing the complex needs of those in contact with the criminal justice system.

“It is this work which will shape and encourage the development of further services nationwide.”

If successful, the scheme, which is set to run for the next year, will be extended to the rest of the country by 2017.

Other trial sites include Merseyside, London, Leicester and Sussex. 

Nationally, the initiative is costing £25million. NHS England is working with other Government departments including Public Health England, Home Office and Ministry of Justice as they test out the new model.