Wakefield’s Liaison and Diversion Service named best in the country

Ref: PR 8424
Date: 8/12/2016

Wakefield Council has received national recognition for the work of its Liaison and Diversion Service.

The service is delivered in close partnership with West Yorkshire Police and at a national ceremony last week, it scooped the award for 'Best Liaison and Diversion Service' in the country.

The service works with adults and young people who come into contact with the criminal justice system. It is funded by NHS England and aims to divert individuals away from the criminal justice system into health, social care or other support organisations.

Aiming to stop people from reoffending, the service looks at the causes behind their behaviour and helps them to move into education or employment. It helps identify what support a person needs and assists with access to those services. This can include substance misuse support, mental health services, domestic abuse services and support to access education, training and work. The service also ensures that those who have offended make amends for their crime by taking part in community pay back projects.

Cllr Olivia Rowley, the Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "We are delighted that this scheme has received national recognition. Our team is based at Normanton Police headquarters, so we can work closely with the Police to help identify young people and adults entering the Criminal Justice System at the earliest opportunity.

"We can then make sure that people are accessing the help and support they need, moving them away from the criminal justice system and reducing the number of people accessing services in a crisis."

Wakefield Liaison and Diversion service also works with the Police to deliver conditional cautions for low-level offences for adults, as an alternative to going to court.

The service works with offenders in a way that requires them to understand the impact of their offending on victims and make amends for their crime. The strength of the partnership working between the Council and the Police was highlighted at the awards ceremony as being central to the success of the service.

Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain of Wakefield District Police, said: "This national recognition is excellent news for all partners involved in efforts to prevent re-offending. Wakefield Police works in very close partnership with Wakefield Council to deliver this service which has a proven track record.

"Only recently we have seen one example of a formerly prolific juvenile vehicle crime offender not offending for several months after engaging in diversionary work in Pontefract.

"Within Wakefield Police, we have also seen real success from awareness courses offered to those arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour, to make them aware of the consequences of drinking too much and getting into trouble. Over the past few years we have seen reoffending rates drop significantly among those who have taken part in the scheme.

"Intervening in issues early to prevent them turning into problems is a key part of our wider approach to all neighbourhood policing in the district.

"Clearly addressing the root causes of why people turn to crime and assisting them in turning their lives around forms a central part of this approach and is among the best methods we have of reducing criminality."

The Wakefield Liaison and Diversion Service is commissioned by NHS England. The Council's Youth Offending Team was initially selected three years ago to take part in a national pilot to provide a Liaison and Diversion service across all ages and this way of working has proved successful in reducing reoffending and demand on local services and has now been rolled out across the country.

ENDS

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