Police custody: Liaison & diversion

Liaison & Diversion (L&D) Services work to identify vulnerable adults and young people when they first come into contact with the criminal justice system, often through being held in police custody. L&D navigators assess the persons needs and, where possible direct them to the appropriate health and social care services.

The service helps to support the individual through the early stages of the Criminal Justice System. It also provides an opportunity to identify any additional needs the individual may have and for which they may not be currently receiving support. The aim is to improve health outcomes for people, help to divert people from reaching crisis point and to reduce reoffending.

L&D navigators carry out virtual screenings and face to face assessments of the individual being held by the police. By looking to understand the persons needs and vulnerability, navigators can make referrals for further assessment to the appropriate services.

Vulnerabilities which can be identified during this screening process include:

  • Mental health concerns
  • Safeguarding concerns, including self-harm, suicidal thoughts
  • Speech, language or communications needs
  • Substance misuse disorders
  • Learning disabilities, Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Trauma, including previous experience of domestic abuse or sexual abuse
  • Housing needs
  • Financial difficulties and debt
  • Young people and women in custody
  • Charge-related vulnerabilities (eg a person may be at high risk of self-harm or suicide if they have been charged with a serious offence)

As well as initial triage and assessment in custody, L&D staff continue to provide support through follow up appointments and referrals, until the person either attends court or begins to engage with support services.

Find out more about how Liaison & Diversion services work in this video.

Liaison & Diversion Services are commissioned nationally by NHS England, and often involve multi-agency partnerships. Spectrum is the lead provider for the services in Durham, Cleveland and North Yorkshire, working in partnership with Humankind and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.