06 January 2014

Mental health support in police custody suites

AWP is excited to  annouce its involvement in a national project to provide an assessment and advice service for detainees in custody.

The new scheme will mean dedicated mental health professionals (nurses and social workers) being based in the police custody suites in Swindon, Melksham and Salisbury. Here, they will be able to help police and courts staff to identify people with suspected mental health problems, learning disabilities and other impairments, with a view to completing assessments and making sure their needs are met.

Avon and Wiltshire is fortunate to have been one of the 10 areas across the country selected by the Department of Health to trial this new way of working, using an extra £25 million of government funding.

CARS has been operating in the Wiltshire courts for a number of years and already operates in police custody suites in Bath and Trinity Road (Bristol). The goal now is to provide the service in all police custody suites and criminal courts across the AWP patch and over the past 6 weeks CARS team leader Richard Evans, and CARS Practitioner Kristina Rees have delivered mental health awareness training to all of the Wiltshire Police custody staff, introducing them to the team's work.

The new service will initially run Monday to Friday, 9-5 with a view to extending to 7 days a week, 8am-8pm.

Richard Evans says: "We are delighted to be able to offer this service to ensure that people coming into the criminal justice system with mental health illnesses, learning disabilities and substance misuse problems get the treatment and support they need as early as possible. By giving treatment sooner, the hope is that we will also be able to reduce the likelihood of re-offending."

These services will be evaluated by the Department of Health and if successful, extended to the rest of the country by 2017.

This scheme is now being covered in national media and Jane Adsnderson CARS service manager has already been on local radio and TV talking about how we are progessing this work in AWP.

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