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Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 27th July 2017.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

Her Majesty's Government whether they are developing strategies in relation to (1) death from natural causes, (2) mental health issues, and (3) suicides for (a) prisoners in general, (b) older prisoners, and (c) prisoners on indeterminate sentences who are held beyond their initial tariff.

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

We are committed to improving the support that we offer to prisoners at risk of self-harm or suicide. We expect the most important and effective measures to be the investment of £100 million for recruitment of 2,500 new staff, and the introduction of new offender management arrangements in prisons under which each key worker will have particular responsibility for a small number of prisoners. These will greatly enhance the time and resources available to support prisoners who are at risk.

New training is being rolled out across the estate to support our staff to identify the risks and triggers of suicide and self-harm and understand what they can do to support prisoners at risk. The new training package consists of six sections including awareness training for staff on supporting prisoners with mental health issues.

We have put in place specialist roles (regional safer custody leads) in every region to provide advice to prisons and to spread good practice on identifying and supporting prisoners at risk. We are using experts – including providing extra funding for the Samaritans to provide targeted support for prison staff and to prisoners directly.

Other measures are being developed as part of our safety programme, which includes specific strands of work on the early days in custody; the case management of prisoners at risk; improvements to the built environment of prisons; and building hopefulness amongst prisoners, including through family and peer support.

Older Prisoners

Elderly and frail prisoners receive support from NHS clinical services and local authority social care, as well as from prison officers. All staff are trained to appropriate professional standards for their contribution to care. Supporting elderly prisoners is covered in entry-level prison officer training. Prison officers are provided with guidance on dementia and also receive advice and guidance from occupational therapists and social workers at a local level. We are working closely with clinical leaders and social care services to improve our understanding of the impacts of dementia across prisons.

We are currently working to improve our knowledge about the particular health and social needs of older prisoners so we can determine how we might meet these requirements. We have set up a working group to explore this issue. This work will include taking expert advice on what changes we might need to make to the estate or to the regime.

Indeterminate Sentence Prisoners beyond tariff

The release of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) who have completed their tariff is a matter for the independent Parole Board.

HMPPS is focused on giving IPP prisoners the support, opportunities and motivation they need to progress more quickly when they are reviewed by the Parole Board so that they have the best possible prospect for securing release. HMPPS and the Parole Board have implemented a joint action plan, the purpose of which is to deliver further improvements and efficiencies in the effort to help IPP prisoners progress towards release.

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