Prisoners: Mental Health Services

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 24th October 2018.

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Photo of Jared O'Mara Jared O'Mara Independent, Sheffield, Hallam

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to support prisoners who have mental health issues; and whether his Department has plans to expand the provision of such support.

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

We take mental health issues very seriously and are committed to working closely with health partners to ensure that offenders are able to access the treatment and support required for their mental health needs. Providing the right interventions at the right time is vital to improving outcomes. Liaison & Diversion services place clinical staff at police stations and courts, to provide assessments and referrals to treatment and support. They also provide critical information to decision-makers in the justice system, so that decisions and sentences can be tailored to meet their needs. Liaison and Diversion services continue to be rolled out across England, and were at 82% at the end of March 2018. Full roll out is expected by 2020-21. For those in custody, NHS England are responsible for commissioning and delivering health services in prisons in England. In Wales, healthcare is devolved to the Welsh Government. However, we recognise the importance of the prison environment on enabling better health outcomes. To June 2018, we have recruited an additional 3,653 frontline prison officers who will help improve prison regimes and access to healthcare. This will also enable us to implement the key worker role, giving staff dedicated time to provide one-to-one support to individual prisoners and, for example, identify where mental health support may be needed. We are also working to improve prison staff training around mental health, including providing revised suicide and self-harm prevention training. Over 17,000 prison staff have completed at least one module of the revised suicide and self-harm prevention training. We are currently reviewing the mental health element of the Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT) to ensure it provides staff with the knowledge and confidence to recognise and respond appropriately to new or unreported mental health problems, or to recognise when existing problems are deteriorating. We have awarded grant of £500k a year, for the next three years, to the Samaritans to enable the continuation of their excellent Listeners Scheme.

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