Prisons: Mental Health

Home Department written question – answered on 27th March 2007.

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Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin Labour, Sunderland South

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the proportion of prisoners in need of mental health care who should be treated in secure NHS facilities.

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Responsibility for prison health care services now rests with the Department of Health.

Although large numbers of people in prison have a diagnosed mental disorder(s), most do not meet the criteria for detention set out in the Mental Health Act 1983. Those prisoners who are assessed as being too ill to remain in prison are already being transferred to a hospital setting appropriate to their care and security needs.

In 2006, 31 per cent. more prisoners with mental illness too severe for prison were transferred to hospital than in 2002—up to 941 from 722. There has also been a significant decrease in the number of people waiting over 12 weeks for a transfer. In the quarter ending December 2006, 38 prisoners were waiting, down from 62 in the quarter ending June 2005.

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