Liaison and Diversion (L&D) services identify people who have mental health, learning disability, substance misuse or other vulnerabilities when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system as suspects, defendants or offenders. The service can then support people through the early stages of criminal system pathway, refer them for appropriate health or social care or enable them to be diverted away from the criminal justice system into a more appropriate setting, if required.
Source: NHS England
L&D services aim to improve overall health outcomes for people and to support people in the reduction of re-offending. It aims to identify vulnerabilities in people at the earliest point of entering the Criminal Justice System which reduces the likelihood of people reaching a crisis-point and helps to ensure the right support can be put in place.
The Programme was implemented from the recommendations of the Bradley Report (2009). Lord Bradley was asked by the Government to consider ways to divert people with mental health problems and other vulnerabilities away from the criminal justice system. He undertook a review and then recommended that the Government should develop and improve Liaison and Diversion Services on a National scale.
The service, commissioned by NHS England is offered throughout Wakefield and the wider West Yorkshire region, for both Young People and Adults entering the Criminal Justice System. A team of practitioners case identify, screen and assess Young People and Vulnerable Adults entering the Criminal Justice System. They provide assessments and accurate information to decision makers and sentence’s to ensure best outcomes for service users. By reducing the likelihood that people will reach a crisis-point the service encourages service users to engage in appropriate services whilst maximising the use of third sector organisations.
Specific support pathways are now in place supporting female offenders, those who are service veterans, young people and those individuals where there may be concerns about the person’s mental health. Liaison and Diversion also engage with individuals who are required to attend for interview by voluntary attendance (VA) rather than being arrested and taken to a custody suite.
A specific youth pathway is in place as the service recognises that vulnerabilities of young people would differ from adult service users. A signs of safety approach is embedded within the service in order to create a diversion plan within the holistic approach of working with youths. Vulnerabilities can be identified and relevant referrals made to third party services. The service offers handholding to appointments and continued liaison with services.
At a local level, there are approximately 9,000 arrests annually within the Wakefield population (10 yrs and above) and it is acknowledged that many of these may not be suitable for the L&D service, nevertheless the service actively engages with around 500 service users on an annual basis.
Comparison to Other Local Authorities
Comparing Wakefield to other LA’s and England.
The below table demonstrates the current position of Wakefield in relation to our Yorkshire and Humber neighbours against the following indicator: “First time offenders“.
The L&D Programme has developed into a strong cross-government initiative, with partners from:
- Department of Health
- NHS England
- Home Office
- Ministry of Justice
- Youth Justice Board
- HM Courts and Tribunals Service
- Public Health England
- Offender Health Collaborative
- Bradley Review Group
- National Offender Management Service
- Crown Prosecution Service