Diversion operates at the point where decisions can be made about whether a patient should or should not enter or remain in the criminal justice system. It does not fit easily into the current thrust towards community safety, for the aim is to treat rather than control or punish, and I say this without entering that debate about whether treatment is control or punishment. Perhaps the explanation lies in the differences between the various pressure groups; those wanting community safety are primarily concerned with controlling patients in the community, those for diversion are likely to be those supporting psychiatric values, and with a dislike of the criminal justice system. It is interesting that, over the years, supporters for diversion have had a considerable impact on policy, resulting in a government view that diversion should be pursued. As far as this book is concerned, and the central themes being followed therein, diversion needs to be examined sceptically to determine how, if at all, it helps to promote the integrity of mental health systems, and whether it fosters or frustrates community safety.
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