More people in the criminal justice system will get the support they need, as Oxfordshire’s Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion service expands.
It is well established that people who find themselves in the criminal justice system are far more likely than the average person to have a vulnerability: the Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion service has been set up to support people who may have mental health problems, learning disabilities or social care needs; provided jointly by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (in collaboration with Response), the service is now available 24/7 at key locations in Oxfordshire for people of all ages who have contact with the police.
When a person in need of support ends up at a police station or at a magistrates’ or crown court, this service ensures a health professional will carry out a screening and an initial assessment, and can if it is needed make a swift referral to the most appropriate service. The aim is to support these people as they proceed through the criminal justice system, while identifying, assessing and improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people, to help reduce their re-offending and also to inform an effective application of the justice process. Information sharing between health services and those in the criminal justice system can significantly improve justice outcomes.
Project manager Kishan Waas at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“This is a very important service that will hopefully enable many more vulnerable people to access the services they need. We know from available data that a large population of custody detainees have a higher prevalence of health issues and other vulnerabilities. It is critical that these people get support. By sharing our assessments with our colleagues in the criminal justice system, it will also assist them in making informed decisions.”
Consultant clinical psychologist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust Dr Matthew Lister said:
“This service will provide us with a vital opportunity to identify young people with vulnerabilities who might not have been previously assessed or offered support. We know that helping people at the earliest stage in their life is usually the best way to help them address issues for the long term and preventing them entering a negative cycle of criminal behaviour.”