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CNWL welcomes new drive to divert vulnerable offenders away from jail

10 August 2018

CNWL’s Milton Keynes Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service has welcomed the launch of a new drive to steer more people away from prison through mental health support.

The Government said today that it wants to see more vulnerable offenders being given such treatment orders instead of being handed short-term custodial sentences as it launched a new protocol to encourage greater use of the Community Sentence Treatment Requirement (CSTR).

The new protocol encourages a partnership approach between local courts, commissioners of mental health and substance misuse services, the National Probation Service, Community Rehabilitation Companies, Liaison and Diversion services and frontline treatment providers.

Milton Keynes was one of five test bed areas across England.

Over the past year 26 service users agreed to undergo and complete mental health treatment rather than face custody through the Milton Keynes IAPT service, avoiding a total of nearly three years’ worth of custody.

Simon Warren, Mental Health Community Services Manager in Milton Keynes, said: “Offenders in the community should be able to access treatment in the same way as anyone else and our IAPT service has proved that psychological treatment works for this group.

“This is not a soft option, as it requires a high degree of engagement from the patient and a commitment to address their health and social care issues.

“Now we intend to expand service provision locally for the courts in Milton Keynes.  The service will continue to monitor its outcomes as a part of a successful national pilot.”

The idea of the Community Sentence Treatment Requirement is to address the health needs of offenders which may be contributing to their offending behaviour, along with directly addressing the reduction of short term custodial sentences by providing effective community sentence options. 

A significant number of people who come into contact with the criminal justice system have mental health and/or substance misuse problems. However the use of community orders that include treatment to address these needs has been very low.

Milton Keynes IAPT’s partner agencies are P3 and Probation.