New mental health service in Peterborough will help divert female offenders from short prison sentences

Vulnerable female offenders in Peterborough at risk of short prison sentences may be diverted towards community sentences with treatment for their mental health issues as part of a new project.

Sunday, 6th October 2019, 11:02 am
The launch of the new project

Aimed at reducing the rates of re-offending, the initiative has been funded in conjunction with NHS England, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the National Probation Service and BeNCH CRC (Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Community Rehabilitation Company).

The treatment programmes, known as Mental Health Treatment Requirements, will be delivered by staff from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust’s Liaison and Diversion Service.

The funding has allowed the team to employ two new members of staff: a part-time clinical psychologist and a full-time assistant psychologist.

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Evidence from similar projects across the country has shown an increase in those referred for mental health treatment and higher compliance, according to Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite, which it is hoped will reduce their chances of re-offending.

Mr Ablewhite, who has contributed £20,000 to the scheme, alongside other partner, said: “It’s vital that agencies across health and justice work more closely together to ensure offenders have the right support at the right time and in the right setting so they are less likely to re-offend.

“This targeted mental health treatment of vulnerable offenders will help divert people towards community sentences where they will receive treatment for mental health issues, often found to be the root cause of their offending behaviour.

“It’s schemes such as these that help to build greater confidence in community sentences.”

CPFT’s Sara Hart said: “We are delighted to have been able to receive this funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner and probation services.

“This will enable us, working alongside our colleagues from the justice system including magistrates and probation, to do even more to help vulnerable women.”

The Liaison and Diversion Service works with people who enter the criminal justice system, providing assessments for vulnerabilities such as mental ill-health or learning disabilities.

They can also signpost them to services run by CPFT or a range of partner organisations such as Cambridgeshire Constabulary, local authorities and third sector organisations.

Assessing people at the earliest possible opportunity, when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system, means they can receive help quicker.

The overall aim is to help people break the cycle of their behaviour or prevent them reaching crisis point by helping them access appropriate services as quickly as possible.