The Prison Reform Trust (PRT) have recently published a report entitled “Relative Justice: the experiences and views of family members of people with particular needs in contact with criminal justice and liaison and diversion services”. Liaison and diversion is a process whereby individuals with particular vulnerabilities including: mental health problems; learning disabilities and substance misuse problems are identified and assessed as early as possible as they pass through the criminal justice system. The purpose of this report is to inform the development of liaison and diversion services prior to their national roll out in 2017.
Some of the recommendations of the report include:
- Greater support needs to be provided for families of people with particular needs in contact with criminal justice. Such support would include: providing information about their relative (with his or her consent) and about the criminal justice process generally; providing moral support and providing referrals into local services, where they exist.
- It is recommended that the families of people with particular needs in contact with criminal justice should have a greater awareness of and contact with liaison and diversion services. This can be achieved by the liaison and diversion services being proactive in promoting their services to families.
- With the consent of their relative, family members should be contacted routinely and in a timely way, and informed what they can expect from liaison and diversion services. Contact with liaison and diversion services, especially referrals from family members, should be straight forward.
- It is suggested that individuals in contact with criminal justice services should be made aware of the benefits of proportionate information sharing with named family members during their initial contact with liaison and diversion services.
- Frontline liaison and diversion staff should be given the opportunity to participate in family support awareness training to enable greater recognition of need and appropriate referrals into family support and children’s services.
- NHS England should consider establishing a national forum of family members, which would help to monitor and inform the development of liaison and diversion services through to national roll out in 2017/18.