A NEW report has outlined how Greater Manchester’s Integrated Police Custody Healthcare and Wider Liaison and Diversion Service has been successful in supporting vulnerable people who have entered the criminal justice system.
Greater Manchester’s Integrated Service launched back in 2017 after being jointly commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP).
The service sees healthcare professionals and Liaison and Diversion service staff identifying vulnerable people when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system. L&D staff support individuals affected by issues ranging from physical and mental health problems, homelessness or drug and alcohol issues. In some cases, people have been diverted away from the criminal justice system into more appropriate settings for treatment and support.
A report, undertaken by Manchester Metropolitan University, has found the service has been a success, with the pilot going on to be rolled out in other areas. Those using the service said it had helped them to turn their lives around and was essential to their positive progress, while partner agencies described the L&D as critical and necessary.
Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, said: “This report shows the Integrated Service is working in our city-region and helping vulnerable people in the criminal justice service change their lives. The service has helped a variety of individuals ranging from ex forces, people who are homeless or people with learning disabilities where a prison cell is not suitable.
“The service is a great example of partnership working at its best, with a number of agencies coming together to support the needs of individuals while identifying the root cause of what is causing their behaviour to prevent reoffending.”
The report also found the Integrated Service led to longer-term improvements, with users helped with booking appointments, bill payments and access to Universal Credit.
The service is delivered by Mitie Care and Custody and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust.
David (whose name has been changed to protect his identity), has described the Integrated Service as an “absolute godsend” and said it helped save his life. David, a former veteran, had been in custody on over 20 occasions and was referred to the Integrated Service Healthcare Professional for clinical reasons by Greater Manchester Police.
It emerged that David suffered from PTSD and was sofa-surfing after being made homeless. A Community Engagement Worker from the service, helped David access Universal Credit and accommodation into ex-forces supported living. From being a regular offender, to appearing in police custody and the courts, he has not committed any further offences.
David said: “When I met the Community Engagement Worker I was in a really dark place at that time in my life, destined for either death or prison; as trivial as I may make it sound, but it’s the truth. The support that has been given and offered to me by the CSN is second to none and I really couldn’t sing her praises enough. I’ve been supported with housing, mental health, substance misuse and my criminal past; the list goes on all of which is far behind me now.
“I have changed my life around completely in the near two years I have had the pleasure of working with the service, I’m now in stable, prosperous work with the local authority under the Armed Forces Team, working with veterans with severe complexities and needs, which has opened up a number of avenues for myself.”