Minister outlines £24m young offender mental health programme

Neil Puffett
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Details have emerged of a joint youth justice and health initiative to boost mental health services for young people in trouble with the law.

Speaking in parliament, youth justice minister Phillip Lee said the Ministry of Justice and NHS England are working together to develop a £24m programme targeting mental health support at young offenders.

Lee said: "We are committed to improving mental health treatment for young people in contact with the youth justice system."

He added that the intention of the programme will be to "address gaps in mental health provision for children and young people in contact with the justice system".

The funding is part of a £114m package to be spent on "vulnerable groups" between 2016 and 2021 first announced in the Implementing the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, published by NHS England in July.

A breakdown of how the £24m will be spent is so far unclear, and the Ministry of Justice declined to comment on the precise details of the programme.

Lee's comments came in response to a question by Labour MP Andrew Gwynne, who asked how many young offenders had been admitted to either children's mental health wards or adult mental health wards since January 2014.

Lee said a total of 58 young people had been admitted to child and adolescent units - 25 in 2014, 22 in 2015, and 11 in 2016, while there had been one admission to an adult ward - in November 2014.

The move follows a delay to a major review into youth justice - conducted by Charlie Taylor, which had been due for publication in July but has yet to be released.

Appearing before the justice select committee in September, Truss said the MoJ required "time to think" about wide-ranging proposals to reform the youth justice system.

Taylor has previously said that he would like to see a network of secure schools with around 60 to 80 places replace existing young offender institutions.

Taylor has also said he wants to see greater integration between youth justice and social care services.

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