Prisons: Mental Health Services

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 19th July 2018.

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Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Conservative, Windsor

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department has taken to promote mental health treatment in prisons.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Health services in public prisons in England, including mental health treatment, are commissioned and reviewed by NHS England. In Wales, health is devolved to the Welsh Government. However, as signatories to the National Partnership Agreement for Prison Healthcare 2018-2021, the Department works closely with health partners to support the delivery of healthcare by ensuring prisoners are able to access these services.

That is why we are investing in our workforce. We have met our target to recruit an additional 2,500 prison officers several months ahead of schedule, helping to ensure that prisoners can be supported to attend scheduled healthcare appointments and receive weekly, one-to-one support from a named prison officer. These officers will coach, signpost and encourage individuals in order that they feel settled and safe and part of this may include signposting individuals to mental health treatment in prison.

Beyond staff support, HMPPS invests in various support services for prisoners which can help promote mental health treatment. For example, HMPPS recently refreshed its partnership with the Samaritans to continue funding the Listeners scheme, which trains selected prisoners to provide emotional support to peers.

The Department recognises the impact that the prison environment can have on prisoner health and wellbeing, particularly for prisoners with a mental health diagnosis. This is why we are focussing on getting the basics right through our prison estate transformation programme, delivering decent prisons that improve opportunities for rehabilitation and create safe and secure environments for staff and offenders.

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