LANCASHIRE has received a £1.4 million funding boost to extend the 'invaluable' work of mental health staff in the county's police stations and courts.

The scheme, which launched this month to reduce reoffending rates, ensures the police stations in Blackburn and Burnley have weekend cover from 'Liaison and Diversion' workers, The service has also been extended at the magistrates courts in Blackburn, Burnley and Accrington, as well as Burnley's crown court. It previously only covered Monday to Friday, and was only available to adults, but will also now be extended to under-18s.

The team works to identify, assess and refer people with mental health conditions, learning disabilities and other vulnerabilities, who enter the criminal justice system.

Sue Tighe, network director for specialist services at Lancashire Care, said: “We are really pleased to be part of this scheme.

"Having the resources in-house to identify an individual’s healthcare needs means the appropriate treatment and rehabilitation can be provided.

"In turn, this may also help to reduce the risk of reoffending and improve overall health and wellbeing. Increasing funding to enable this to continue seven-days-a-week is fantastic and will provide prompt care and support for anyone who requires our assistance.”

The overall service has been running for about 13 years, but this will be the first time it has been available at weekends.

Steve Sansbury, chief inspector at Lancashire Constabulary, said: “The Liaison and Diversion teams within our police custody suites already provide an invaluable service that assists us in dealing with some very challenging and often vulnerable individuals.

"The extension of the service to seven days a week and covering all ages, as opposed to just adults, is another stride forward in enhancing our ability to safely and professionally deal with detainees who are arrested and who may have mental health issues or other vulnerabilities.

"This service assists us in carrying out our role of investigating crime, whilst at the same time referring people into appropriate services, with a view to preventing further re-offending, thereby reducing the risk of crime within our communities."