Content and constraints: IP training between the criminal justice and mental health services

This source preferred by Sarah Hean

Authors: Hean, S.

Start date: 11 September 2013

In Europe, unacceptably large numbers of prisoners have mental health issues. Integrated, effective interagency collaboration is required between the criminal justice system (CJS) and mental health services (MHS) to ensure early diagnosis and treatment. In the UK, diversion/liaison schemes are proposed as a means to integrated service provision. This study explored MHS and CJS professionals' perceptions of the joint interagency training needs required to prepare the workforce to effectively respond to liaison/diversion agenda as well as the constraints these different groups worked under in terms of delivering this type of training. An interagency event brought together 52 professionals from both the MHS and CJS. Six focus groups were conducted with these professionals. Analysis showed that professionals from both systems needed to build empathic relationships with staff from other agencies. They stressed the importance of actual face-to-face contact with other agencies to achieve this and saw interagency relationships as being built through increased knowledge of other agencies and formal facilitated contact between them. They were strongly in favor of interagency training and its contribution to enhanced collaborative competence across the workforce and, in the long term, improved offender mental health. Participants believed interagency training would develop a greater knowledge of other agencies and help them understand others' roles and responsibilities. They believed interagency training should occur pre-qualification, through into continued professional development and contain a variety of interagency training experiences. Professionals from both systems shared a high level of person-centeredness in their approach to their practice and stressed the importance of training being grounded and delivered in a real world environment. Participants acknowledged that training opportunities are under threat due to financial and time limitations and that joint commissioning, shared resources and economies of scale must be considered. Recommendations for an interagency package of training is presented.

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