The service which helps address the health and social needs of people in the Criminal Justice System within Gloucestershire has been expanded. The Criminal Justice Liaison Service, provided by ²gether NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with PROSPECTS and the Nelson Trust Women’s Centre, involves supporting adults and young people in custody and in the community who are facing criminal investigations. The service has been provided thanks to extra funding from NHS England as part of the national development of liaison and diversion services in England.
Andy Webb, Criminal Justice Liaison Service Team Manager said: “We have staff embedded in the police custody suite seven days per week and in court for all the court sessions. We also provide a service to the Crown Court when necessary.
“We are also working towards developing a service for those persons attending for a police voluntary interview in the community. This is to ensure that those invited to attend an interview outside of police custody receive an equitable provision.”
The main aim of the service is to identify health and social inequalities for people aged 10 and above who find themselves within the criminal justice system facing criminal investigation. This might include people with mental health issues, learning disabilities and substance misuse issues, as well as those with accommodation and financial problems.
In the first year, staff within the team of eight completed over 1,200 assessments. This averages at about four formal assessments per day, but the process is broken down into complex cases and informal ‘cell sweeps’ where issues are quickly identified.
For young people in Gloucestershire, the Youth Support Team (PROSPECTS) offers a comprehensive outreach service to pinpoint and respond to a variety of needs including emotional wellbeing/mental health, substance misuse and positive occupation. The Youth Support Team works closely with professionals within areas which support young people such as social care, early help, health and education.
The Nelson Trust Women’s Centre provides holistic support to women who need help with things like accommodation, mental and physical health, drugs and alcohol, finance and benefits, family and relationships, domestic abuse, sex work, education and training and attitudes and behaviour. Women who are arrested and identified as vulnerable through the Liaison and Diversion service can access the Women’s Centre. Each woman is allocated a keyworker who will work with them to develop an individualised plan of support. Niki Gould, head of Women’s Community Services said: “We encourage women to make choices to take control of their lives. We always believe in the possibility of change, and we never, ever give up hope”.