Sussex Police piloting national scheme to cut reoffending

SUSSEX POLICE has welcomed news it will receive additional funding to boost the work of mental health nurses based in police stations.

The Department of Health has announced Sussex it is one of several counties receiving additional funding for a pilot project, which sees nurses based in police stations, supporting people with mental health issues.

Leighe Rogers, director at the Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust, said: “We have long been aware that the majority of people who end up in prison have a mental health problem, a learning disability or a substance misuse problem. It is not only in their interests but in society’s interest that they receive the right support, as this can help to prevent re-offending and reduce the number of victims of crime.”

More than £450,000 will be pumped into Sussex Police and the Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust from the government.

The funds are supplied through the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

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 8am-4pm during the week. The additional funding means the service can be extended from 8am-8pm, seven days a week.

Funding was due to expire in April, but now runs to April, 2015.

Originally, 52 sites across the country received the funding, however Sussex is one of only ten to receive the extra cash.

Superintendent Julia Pope of Sussex Police said; ““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.

“This project is in addition to the current pilot ‘triage’ work in Eastbourne where mental health nurses are accompanying police officers on patrol.

“The two projects are proving to be successful, and demonstrate our joint commitment to providing better services for people with mental health problems who come into contact with police and the criminal justice system.”

From April, 2012, until July 2013, 3,264 people in Sussex received an assessment from specialist nurses either in police custody or at court.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said 78 per cent of these people had at least one previous conviction, 32 per cent had more than ten previous convictions and 70 per cent of the people assessed had a mental health problem such as a depressive illness, schizophrenia or a personality disorder.

Lorraine Reid, managing director of specialist services at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our team in Sussex has worked incredibly hard to create one of the best services in the country, using our many years of experience running mental health, substance misuse and prison healthcare services locally.”