Liaison and diversion services in South East London: Referral patterns over a 25-year period

Howard Ryland, Andrew Forrester, Tim Exworthy, Shaun Gallagher, Lynne Ramsay, Al Aditya Khan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Criminal justice liaison and diversion services identify people with mental health needs and ensure they receive appropriate support. We describe a 25-year period of one such service that deals with a population of 864,540 in South East London that was set up in 1991. We used data from three time periods. A diagnosis of a mental illness was recorded in 70.0-80.3% of court liaison and diversion referrals. The proportion receiving a hospital order declined from 15.4% in 1991/1992 to 1.1% in 2015/2016; 54/199 (27.1%) of referrals to the police liaison and diversion service were detained in hospital. Although the service is designed to support any individual with a mental health issue, these results suggest that it has dealt mainly with people who have severe mental illness. Further research is required to understand how best to benefit a wider range of people with mental health issues who attend the lower (Magistrates') courts, and whether screening for mental disorders can be applied in liaison and diversion settings to aid the implementation of national policy. We also need to understand how disposal decisions are made, and which are most effective.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)166-172
    Number of pages7
    JournalThe Medico-legal journal
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


    • Court
    • criminal justice
    • diversion
    • liaison
    • mental health
    • police


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