Prisoners: Mentally Ill

Justice written question – answered on 15th October 2008.

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Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster Shadow Minister (International Development)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many of those in custody in England and Wales have been diagnosed with mental health problems.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

We are aware that there are a number of people in custody in England and Wales who experience mental health problems. The 1997 Office for National Statistics' survey, for example, indicated that as many as 58 per cent. of male and 75 per cent. of female remand prisoners, and 39 per cent. of male and 62 per cent. of female sentenced prisoners met criteria for a diagnosis of anxiety and/or depression. Rates of very severe mental illness were between 7 and 9 per cent. of sentenced men and 14 per cent. of women having a psychotic illness.

Accurate identification of people needing mental health treatment and care is important at all stages in the care and offender pathway. This is why all prisoners are screened at reception for risks of mental ill health and previous history of psychiatric treatment. The Offender Assessment System (OASys) helps to ensure that any person judged to be at risk and/or of needing mental health treatment and care can be identified and referred, where appropriate, to the Mental Health In-Reach Team.

By 2005-06 nearly £20 million was being invested recurrently in mental health in-reach. There are now 102 mental health in-reach teams and all prisons now have access to them: a total of 360 extra staff altogether. There are also new systems to monitor and support those at risk of harming themselves.

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