Mick Lambert, a registered learning disability nurse and mental health practitioner working with West Yorkshire Liaison and Diversion Service, helps to support those in the criminal justice system with a view to diverting away from custodial sentences and identifying rehabilitative support as an alternative.

This could include mental health, housing, finance, substance misuse, gambling/other addictions, trauma/abuse, learning disability, autism, and other neurodiverse conditions.

As part of Mick's role, he takes referrals for vulnerable people from a wide range of sources including police, probation, solicitors, magistrates, judges, mental health teams, other health and social care services as well as self-referrals and others identified by case workers based in police custody around West Yorkshire.

As the lead for learning disability, autism and neurodiversity within the service for over eight years, Mick has established close links with several community learning disability teams, including the West Yorkshire Forensic Outreach Liaison Service and other services across the region.

Over the past three years, Mick has developed a pathway for case workers to refer people into as well as receiving referrals from partner agencies. Since it began, almost 100 people with learning disabilities have come through the pathway.

Mick Lambert

Mick said: "My involvement can vary on a case-by-case basis. It all depends on the support that is needed. There are many factors to consider including if we have identified somebody that is not diagnosed and could potentially have a learning disability.

"If we have someone with a diagnosis, my role may be reintroducing them to services or liaising with them and care coordinators and making sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

"I feel that people with learning disabilities are vastly underrepresented in terms of support within the criminal justice system. My role is to raise awareness of learning disabilities for all professionals working within the system.

"Learning disabilities nursing is an undervalued area of nursing. People with learning disabilities have the least voice of any vulnerable group, so it's important that more professionals speak up and support people with the view to help them speak out and be treated as equals across the system."