New service aiming to help vulnerable criminals

The scheme aims to offer extra help for those most at risk in the criminal justice system
The scheme aims to offer extra help for those most at risk in the criminal justice system

Vulnerable Wigan people who fall foul of the law were being guaranteed “the right support, in the right place, at the right time,” under a new service launched today.

At set points within the criminal justice system – police custody, court, or preparing for release – detainees will be assessed by liaison and diversion staff, and ones affected by mental ill health, homelessness or learning disabilities, will be helped to access support as soon as possible.

Greater Manchester is leading the way in this field, and is the only UK area providing a fully integrated health and diversion service.

Commissioned by Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority and Health and Social Care Partnership, it aims to divert vulnerable people away from the criminal justice system and into the hands of services better able to tackle the causes of their behaviour.

Available to both adult and young offenders, the integrated service aims to support people affected by physical and mental ill health, learning disabilities, debt, homelessness, drug addiction, and PTSD.

Providing the detainee has given them consent, staff screen and assess them, sharing relevant information with criminal justice agencies to inform charging and sentencing decisions. They are also helped to access appropriate services, such as mental and physical health care, social care, substance misuse services and safeguarding support.

Baroness Beverley Hughes, deputy mayor for policing and crime, said: “While keeping the public safe is the number one priority, it’s clear that a custody cell or prison is not always the right place for vulnerable people, such as veterans, homeless people, or people with learning disabilities.

The criminal justice system doesn’t solve their problems and doesn’t put a stop their behaviour. Too often their actions are directly linked to problems in other areas of their life – a disruption in taking prescribed medication, problems managing debt, alcohol addiction, housing problems. These are the issues that need resolving.”