Left to right: Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez, Local Criminal Justice Board business manager Hannah Hart, non-executive director of Livewell Southwest Morris Watts and clinical lead for the mental health treatment requirement pilot of Plymouth, Hazel Roberts
Hazel is the lead for the community sentence treatment requirement pilot in Plymouth. The city is one of five test bed sites across England and Wales, funded by the Ministry of Justice, aiming to help people access treatment for mild to moderate mental health issues and substance misuse, as part of a community or suspended sentence order.
Run in Plymouth by Livewell Southwest, the pilot focuses on reducing reoffending by addressing the health needs which may be contributing to the offending behaviour such as impact of trauma, post-traumatic stress, and adverse childhood experiences that manifest in symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The 12-week treatment sees a team of therapists and mental health workers provide one-to-one, values-based therapeutic interventions, problem solving and behavioural activation tasks and advice on alternative coping strategies in a safe, convenient environment.
To date, the initiative has helped 30 local people to avoid a custodial sentence and of those, five service users have completed the 12-week psychological intervention to help tackle their mental health needs.
Hazel said: “A significant number of people who come into contact with the criminal justice system experience mental health and/or substance misuse problems.
“Treating people’s mental health needs can reduce reoffending, improve outcomes for the individual and have a positive snowball effect for the courts, local prisons, healthcare services and the community.
“We’ve experienced an increase on uptake of the protocol since early last December and are working collectively with partners with a view to secure ongoing funding to continue to deliver.
“Our priority is to make sure people get the right care, in the right place, at the right time, to help them to manage their mental health and – we hope – break negative patterns of behaviour that may otherwise lead the most vulnerable in our society to reoffend.”
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