Mental health and the criminal justice system: The role of interagency training to promote practitioner understanding of the diversion agenda




Lee-Ann Fenge, Sarah Hean, Sue Staddon, Andy Clapper, Vanessa Heaslip & Eleanor Jack

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law

Volume 36, Issue 1, 2014

25 Mar 2014



Historically there has been a significant under-recognition of mental health problems among people in the criminal justice system, and little research exploring the issues encountered by those with mental health problems who come into contact with the criminal justice system. Recent policy has highlighted the importance of early identification of mental health needs in criminal cases, and the role of diversion of offenders into appropriate mental health services. However research suggests that currently the provision of mental health services for offenders is patchy, and it has been suggested that improved interagency communication and training is required to improve the diversion of offenders with mental health problems into more appropriate mental health provision.

The aim of this paper is to consider the current position of those with mental health conditions within the criminal justice system in England, and discuss how joint interagency training can improve understanding of the diversion agenda for the range of practitioners that come into contact with offenders with mental health problems. The perspectives of a range of practitioners who attended a joint interagency training day will be discussed, and recommendations for future training will be offered.