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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

July 2, 2009: Mental Health Courts Launched

Problem-solving courts for offenders with mental health problems or learning disabilities, the first of their kind in England and Wales, were today formally launched by Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

Developed using the successful model already in place for domestic violence courts and drug courts, mental health courts aim to help the judiciary and magistrates better respond to offenders with mental health problems – helping provide access to health services, offering tailored sentences and ultimately reducing reoffending.

Pilots operating in Brighton and Stratford magistrates’ courts are currently screening offenders for mental health problems, with 21 offenders currently subject to an order which includes supervision by the Mental Health Team and has an element of mental health support within the supervision plan or specific activity requirements.

 Visiting the Brighton pilot, Jack Straw said:

‘We know how important it is to ensure people with mental health problems have their needs properly addressed. Mental health courts represent a new and innovative way to deal with the root-causes of offending and so limit reoffending. They operate as either a dedicated session or within the normal case list in a magistrates’ court dealing with sentencing of offenders who have mental health problems or learning disabilities.

‘Mental health courts encourage closer working between agencies and support services in all communities, ensuring not only that offenders have timely access to local health services, but also that courts have the correct records. They work because they target specific issues, help reduce reoffending and increase public confidence in the criminal justice system.’

Andrew Dean, Director of Secure and Forensic Services at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said:

‘We are delighted that Brighton has been chosen to pilot the new mental health courts programme, which encourages local agencies to work closely together to improve health and reduce crime. Early detection and treatment of offenders’ mental health problems will ensure people who are unwell get the help they need in the right environment; the programme tackles the “revolving door syndrome” that many mentally ill persistent offenders find themselves trapped in.’

Sonia Crozier, Sussex Probation Chief Officer said:

‘The mental health court pilot – with its focus on early identification post arrest, the location of a psychiatric nurse in court and in the probation office – provides a unique opportunity to knit together all the agencies in response to the Bradley findings and to provide a consistent national framework within which to deliver services to this group of offenders.’

Mental health courts form part of a Ministry of Justice programme designed to break the cycle of reoffending by putting in place a range of problem-solving courts and, in this instance, attend to the specific needs of those with mental health problems. The courts, which have been in operation since January, also provide an early response to Lord Bradley’s review of mental health services across the criminal justice system. Bradley published his review of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system in April this year.

Problem-solving courts take a specialist approach in dealing with offenders with specific needs, from mental health, to drug abuse or domestic violence. They address the causes and consequences of offending, dealing with the underlying problems associated with criminal behaviour.

There are several key benefits which drive the government’s commitment to problem-solving courts. They help reduce reoffending, increase public confidence by addressing the needs of local communities, and create a more effective and efficient criminal justice system.