A service in Bedfordshire and Luton that screens and assesses vulnerable people coming into contact with the criminal justice system has been expanded.
Following a successful bid for additional funding, the Trust’s Liaison & Diversion Service (L&DS) will increase its work to operate seven days a week.
It will provide an all-age service to screen and assess adults as well as children and young people outside of the Youth Offending Team (YOT) working hours.
The new-look service will identify people when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system as alleged offenders who may be presenting with evidence of mental health difficulties, learning disability, autism, alcohol or substance misuse or other vulnerabilities such as homelessness.
Following the screening and triage process, the L&DS may refer individuals to relevant health or social care agencies. On occasions, it may be necessary to divert individuals out of the criminal justice process.
The aim of the service is to address health and social care concerns with a view to reducing the risk of offending behaviour.
The team also support the police and the courts by providing reports to inform safe management and fair criminal justice outcomes such as sentencing decisions and case management.
Team members will be based at Luton Magistrates’ Court, Luton Police Station and Kempston Police Station. A one-year pilot will also see a full-time L&DS practitioner based at Luton Crown Court for the first time.
L&DS Operational Lead Karen Weir said: “Our team is passionate about safety in custody and fair criminal justice processes.”
The expansion will be phased over the coming months and completed by December 2017.