If police, magistrates and probation services feel a person has a mental disorder they call in a team from South Essex Mental Health and Community Care trust.

There are community psychiatric nurses, senior social workers and one consultant psychiatrist per team. They are jointly funded by health and local authorities throughout the county.

The police ask every person they arrest if they have any history of mental illness. The team first assesses the person and, if they are bailed, ensures they get the appropriate treatment.

If the offender is put before the court, the team's assessor will go to the court.

A member of the team attends each court in Essex every day. They assess every person in the cells who has been highlighted to them by the police or court staff.

If the court does not have a psychiatric report, the team's consultant will prepare one, saving the court having to wait several weeks to find a doctor to provide one. The teams make recommendations for sentencing in their reports, and magistrates can adjourn the case to consult the team on the options.