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NICE issues mental health guidelines for the criminal justice system

New quality standards have been published to help nurses and other healthcare staff recognise, assess and manage mental health problems in adults who are in contact with the criminal justice system

New quality standards have been published to help nurses and other healthcare staff recognise, assess and manage mental health problems in adults who are in contact with the criminal justice system

The situations covered include anyone aged 18 or over who is seen by police officers, court and prison custody, street triage, liaison and diversion services, or the probation service.

Four pledges

Four care quality pledges are covered by the standards produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

These are that:

  • Any adult who is contact with police because of a suspected offence and has any features of mental health problems will be responded to in a way that reduces the risk of anxiety, self-harm or aggression.
  • Such patients will also be referred for a comprehensive mental health assessment to provide a detailed picture

New quality standards have been published to help nurses and other healthcare staff recognise, assess and manage mental health problems in adults who are in contact with the criminal justice system

The situations covered include anyone aged 18 or over who is seen by police officers, court and prison custody, street triage, liaison and diversion services, or the probation service.

Four pledges

Four care quality pledges are covered by the standards produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

These are that:

  • Any adult who is contact with police because of a suspected offence and has any features of mental health problems will be responded to in a way that reduces the risk of anxiety, self-harm or aggression.
  • Such patients will also be referred for a comprehensive mental health assessment to provide a detailed picture of their mental health and appropriate referral to other support services.
  • Adults with mental health problems who are in contact with the criminal justice system have a care plan that is shared with relevant services, such as police, prison, probation services and social services, to ensure they receive the treatment and support they need.
  • Adults who have a mental health risk management plan and are transferring within the criminal justice system have their plan reviewed by the receiving service. For example, when people move into the community under the care of probation services. This will help to maintain their safety and that of other people.

The standards aim to reduce the number of adults with mental health problems in prison and reoffending rates, as well as the morbidity and premature mortality rates of these individuals.

You can read the full guidance here.


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