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Mental Health treatment scheme launches in Peterborough

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 to help them make lasting changes to their lives.

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.

Evidence from similar projects across the country has shown an increase in those referred for mental health treatment and higher compliance, which should reduce their chances of re-offending.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite who has contributed £20,000 to the scheme, alongside other partners explains:

“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 reoffend.

“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 added: “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.

Research has shown that giving women short-term sentences often does more harm than good because they are not in prison long enough to benefit from any prison therapies and support and are more likely to be placed in a prison far away from home. Their children, if they have them, are likely to be placed in care which is traumatic for them, and their mother.

Women often experience housing and employment difficulties when they are released.

* The assistant psychologist will be based at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court and will provide women with assessment and primary mental health interventions tailored to their needs for at least 6-12 sessions.