News and Comments

Awards for Milton Keynes pilot project for offenders

Mental Health Treatment Requirement (MHTR) demonstrator site results

21 September 2015
Awards for Milton Keynes pilot project for offenders

A jointly-run Mental Health Treatment Requirement (MHTR) pilot project in Milton Keynes has won awards from both Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and the Howard League.

The project in Milton Keynes is the UK’s first psychology-led MHTR programme. Part of its success is due to partnerships between St Andrew’s Healthcare, Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (TV-CRC), social inclusion charity P3 - which links offenders with community based services, NHS England, the judiciary, other criminal justice organisations and the local clinical commissioning group.

The Mental Health Treatment Requirement (MHTR) is one of 12 community sentences available to the court at the point of sentencing but it is the most under-used community sentence, despite extremely high levels of mental ill health across the criminal justice system. Service users suitable for an MHTR are predominantly suffering from lower levels of mental health/learning disability issues and it has been identified that these service users create a significant churn within the CJS as the core reasons for their offending behaviours are not being addressed.

Professor Clive Long from St Andrew’s Healthcare, the lead psychologist for the project says: “The early results show clinically significant improvements in the mental health of those completing MHTRs. This project shows just how effective partnerships between charitable providers and the criminal justice system can be”.

The project aims to identify and support those who can benefit from treatment. It supports magistrates in their sentencing decisions and delivers treatment designed to reduce reoffending and impact on local services (such as Accident and Emergency). It also aims to improve health and wellbeing by improving coping strategies.

Before the MHTR demonstrator site was launched in April 2014, significant effort was made into working with magistrates, solicitors, probation staff and police, increasing awareness of mental health and learning disability, along with highlighting the benefits of the new service. The service is being independently evaluated, with the full research data available from early 2016. Indicative results are showing extremely positive outcomes and have already exceeded initial expectations.

Nationally, only 0.1% of the 300,000 community sentences delivered each year are MHTRs. One of the reasons is lack of evidence about what works. In 2013/14 just one MHTR was made in Milton Keynes and 14 in the wider Thames Valley but since the launch of the Demonstrator site (1 April to June 2015) 110 MHTRs have been made.

The results to date have far exceeded expectations and the project is now generating significant national and global interest.

Previous Article Magistrates hit the River Thames for a good cause
Next Article Keeping children in care out of trouble: an independent review – Progress update

Please login or register to post comments.