Community Sentencing Treatment Requirements

[Project status - Completed]

project summary 

Community Sentencing Treatment Requirements, including Mental Health Treatment Requirements, are available as part of community or reduced prison sentences in England and Wales since 2003; although, they are not commonly used despite the high prevalence of mental health issues among offenders. The Department of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice carried out a pilot project in Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Plymouth and Sefton. A protocol for using Community Sentencing Treatment Requirements was disseminated to a local steering group which was encouraged to use the protocol to develop local pathways and procedures to facilitate the use of Community Service Treatment Requirements. The NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit were tasked to carry out a qualitative service evaluation exploring the perspectives of professional stakeholders regarding the implementation of a new community sentencing protocol across the five pilot sites in England.

The MHPRU found most interviewees optimistic about the implementation of the new community sentencing protocol with one theme highlighting the benefits of the protocol such as addressing gaps in service provisions, facilitating access to other services and increasing options in community sentencing. Despite this, another theme highlighting the challenges implementing the protocol were noted such as sustainability of funding and service users’ needs and motivation and multi-agency working. The study highlights the value of the new protocol and the importance of facilitating Mental Health Treatment Requirements as increased accessibility of Mental Health Treatment Requirements can provide better sentencing options, improve access to mental health services and address an important previous gap in services. Although, there were key challenges highlighted with implantation of the protocol and the need for a well-functioning pathway for those with more severe mental health issues.