New funding will continue to provide specialist mental health support to people in Sussex who become involved with the criminal justice system

A service which offers support to vulnerable people experiencing mental health problems who have become involved with the criminal justice system will continue run in Sussex. 

The Police and Court Liaison and Diversion Service (PCLDS), offers mental health assessments to people of all ages who are involved within the criminal justice system and thought to have mental health problems or a vulnerability.

It has been confirmed this  month by NHS England that Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust will continue to provide the PCLDS across Sussex, as it has done since it launched in 2014. 

The service, which is comprised of health professionals from various backgrounds, including nursing, occupational therapy, learning disability and speech and language therapy, operates seven days a week from 8am until 8pm on a priority basis across all custody suites in Sussex. They also offer support in Magistrates and Crown Court.

Karen Friel, General Manager for Forensic Healthcare Services at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are so pleased to have been successful in our application to be able to continue to offer this service, and look forward to working in close partnership with our NHS England commissioner and partner agency colleagues.

“With this new funding we will be able to continue to focus on improving the health and justice outcomes for adults and young people who come into contact with the youth and criminal justice system, where there are a range of complex needs identified as factors in their offending behaviour.”

First launched in 2014 as one of 10 national pilots, the PCLDS in Sussex work closely with their partner organisations including Sussex Police, Probation Services and Criminal Courts.

Sarah Gates OBE, the force's mental health liaison officer, said: "The Police Court Liaison and Diversion Service is invaluable in our custody centres. 

"For people suspected of committing criminal offences, it is essential that relevant information about their mental health and wellbeing is identified at the earliest opportunity and shared with the partner agencies involved.  

"A journey through the criminal justice system can have many different outcomes. Whatever the outcome, justice is best served when information is made available in a timely manner. Before PCLDS this type of information either wasn’t available or would take weeks to obtain. 

"We are delighted to be working with the mental health professionals from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust."