VULNERABLE people are set to receive the ‘right support, in the right place’ rather than ending up in a custody cell thanks to a new scheme.

A new service has been launched in Greater Manchester and it will ensure vulnerable people affected by issues such as mental ill health, homelessness and learning difficulties have access to appropriate support as soon as possible.

Detainees will be assessed at set points within the criminal justice system, such as in police custody, at court or when they are preparing to return to the community.

Greater Manchester is the only area in the UK providing a fully integrated health and diversion service, using a single case management and simpler referral pathways to better support vulnerable people.

Jointly commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the service aims to divert vulnerable people away from the criminal justice system and into the hands of services better able to tackle the root causes of their behaviour.

The service is available for both adults and young offenders.

Baroness Beverley Hughes, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in Greater Manchester, said: “While keeping the public safe is the number one priority, it’s clear that a custody cell or prison is not always the right place for vulnerable people, such as veterans, homeless people, or people with learning disabilities.

“The criminal justice system doesn’t solve their problems and doesn’t put a stop their behaviour. Too often their actions are directly linked to problems in other areas of their life – a disruption in taking prescribed medication, problems managing debt, alcohol addiction, housing problems. These are the issues that need resolving.”

Jon Rouse, chief officer of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, added “Devolution in Greater Manchester gives us an opportunity to do things differently.

“This service is the result of organisations from across our region working together to expand on existing provision, in a way that was simply not possible two years ago.

“We’re committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Greater Manchester residents. This means stepping outside those environments traditionally associated with the NHS, such as hospitals or local health centres, to ensure vulnerable people have the support they need.”