A project to support vulnerable young adults in contact with the police is to be launched in South Yorkshire today.
Mental health charity Together said young adults, aged 17 to 24, often end up in contact with the police because they do not know where to go to for support.
Barnsley MP and Shadow Justice Minister Dan Jarvis is due to visit the charity today to find out more about the project to ensure young people living in Rotherham have access to specialist mental health support at the earliest point of contact with police.
The hope is early support will reduce their chances of going on to offend.
Alison Thorne, from Together, said: “The young people we see often have very chaotic lives – they may have mental health and drug and alcohol problems, complex social needs and be at risk of offending or of abuse by others.
“Frequently, they’ve not been able to get the support they need, or don’t even know support is available.
“With nowhere else to turn, their situation gets so bad they end up in a cell having dialled 999 or been picked up by police.
“Often, no-one has ever asked them how they’re feeling, or explored what might be behind their behaviour, leaving them at risk of getting caught in the justice system rather than being directed to specialist support.
“We can listen to them, find out what’s not going well for them and work with them to take steps towards improving their situation”.
Mr Jarvis said: “Young people with mental health problems are significantly over-represented in youth custody, and far too many end up coming into contact with the criminal justice system because they are unable to access support earlier.”