Conditions for prisoners with mental health problems in prisons

Photo of Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent steps his Department has taken to improve conditions for prisoners with mental health problems in prisons in England; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb (The Minister of State, Department of Health; North Norfolk, Liberal Democrat)

NHS England is improving prison mental health services through nationally developed service specifications, which are being rolled out across the prison estate in England, ensuring that there are national standards against which services can be measured.

Identification of those offenders with problems including mental health, learning difficulties and other vulnerabilities by liaison and diversion services may facilitate relevant support to these offenders, rather than a criminal justice systemintervention. This has potential to reduce caseload numbers and effectively divert away from custody or community sentences.

NHS England has rolled out a new, all age national Liaison and Diversion standard service specification and operating model to 10 trial schemes, serving 22% of the English population. Following evaluation of these schemes by 2015 and Treasury approval of a full business case in 2015, NHS England will roll out to cover 100% coverage of the population by 2017-18.

Improving offender mental health is a priority for the Government, as set out in the mental health strategy No Health, Without Mental Health in 2011. We have acted upon the recommendations of Lord Bradley’s 2009 review of people with mental health problems and learning disabilities in the criminal justice system, to ensure that prisoners have the same access to mental health services as the rest of population.

In addition, the Government’s Mandate with NHS England commits NHS England to develop better healthcare services for people in the criminal justice system. We have also asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to develop guidelines on improving the mental health for people in prison, which it expects to publish in 2016.