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The future of one of Dorset’s most successful mental health services is looking bright after it was awarded a new contract by NHS England.
The Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion Service (CJLD), run by Dorset HealthCare, supports people of all ages with mental illness, learning disabilities and other vulnerabilities who find themselves in the criminal justice system.
Staff offer screening, assessment and advice to ensure people in custody or the courts receive the help they need. They also liaise with the police and other agencies, and provide follow-up support in the community.
The service was set up back in 2014, and was commissioned to run for just four years as part of a national trial. But such has been the success in reducing the number of vulnerable people held in Dorset’s police cells, NHS England has awarded the team a contract to continue until 2022 – with an option to extend for a further three years.
Service Manager Stan Sadler said: “This is great news for the service and, more importantly, a real positive for the Dorset population.
“There is clear evidence we have made a real difference to people’s lives since our formation, as well as giving Dorset Police and our partners continuity knowing they can work alongside a service they can trust.
“We are delighted we can continue providing invaluable support to people that need it, and we are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.”
Since the service began, staff have carried out more than 1,500 assessments each year, and have offered further support to around 750 people annually who find themselves back in the community.
And they have earned local and national recognition over the past couple of years, with two prestigious awards.
In 2017, Dorset Police awarded them a commendation for supporting them in assisting vulnerable people in the community and custody setting, following an inspection of local custody suites by HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
Inspectors praised the overall care offered and described their liaison, diversion and street triage initiatives as “excellent”, having resulted in a significant reduction in the number of people brought into police custody.
And in July last year, the team triumphed at the National Health Service Journal (HSJ) Patient Safety Awards held in Manchester.
It won in the mental health category for excellence in healthcare, with judges praising the service for “providing a unique and attentive approach that is forward thinking in maintaining the safety of a vulnerable group”.