Dave Marsden – Combat Stress

Dave is a qualified Mental Health Nurse, qualifying in 1999 from the University of Central Lancashire. Prior to that he had had various roles in acute psychiatric intensive care units. Following several years working in forensic mental health he began to specialise in substance misuse and the crossover between Mental Health, Substance Misuse and Criminal Justice, including running Drug Rehabilitation Requirements in Blackpool as part of the well regarded Tower Project.

dave

In 2014 he embarked on a secondment with Combat Stress, a veterans’ mental health charity, to pilot a service to enable and encourage veterans with military-related PTSD and substance misuse issues to access the services they need, in order to address these complex issues: issues that neither drug services, criminal justice services, nor mainstream mental health services alone were able to address.

Before long it became clear that there were many veterans becoming lost in the criminal justice system due to undiagnosed PTSD, complicated by substance misuse, and that their substance misuse was preventing them from accessing quality treatment for their PTSD issues.

Veterans are the single largest professional group involved with the criminal justice system. The project that Dave has been key in developing aims to target veterans who may have been misdiagnosed, or undiagnosed, in order to ensure that they receive the treatment they deserve (prevention) or the diagnosis they need (diversion) in order they receive optimum care packages.

He was given this year’s the Paolo Pertica award for his innovative approach in developing care pathways, which led to swifter diagnosis of PTSD, allowing a more effective multi-agency response for those in need of help.


The Paolo Pertica Award was established in 2004 by the European Network of Drugs and Infections Prevention in Prisons (ENDIPP) to mark the 10-year anniversary of the network. The creation of ENDIPP stemmed largely from Paolo’s work with prisoners from a wide range of different nationalities incarcerated in London prisons. The award was created to acknowledge his contribution to the development of work with drug using prisoners in the UK and within European criminal justice systems.

In addition to ENDIPP, the International Harm Reduction Association previously acted as the custodian of the award and now this responsibility resides with Knowledge Action Change.

The aim of the award is to recognise innovation and outstanding contributions to public health interventions within the criminal justice context, in relation to drug and alcohol users, which can be shown to have a positive impact for both individual offenders and the community in general.

The award is open to individuals and organisations throughout the world engaged in work directly with offenders (including advocacy) policy development work, training, or research. The context for the activity might be related to community settings (including work with police, courts and probation services) or within prisons and other places of incarceration.