UK Government plans for mentally ill prisoners are unrealistic, research suggests

Government plans to divert more mentally ill people out of the criminal justice system and into mental health services are unlikely to be achieved, according to new research from Queen Mary, University of London.

In a study published in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, researchers estimate that there are over 8,000 prisoners with schizophrenia and other in prisons in England and Wales.

If transferred to hospital, treatment for these patients would have to be in conditions of security. However, the sheer number of mentally ill prisoners would overwhelm the medium secure beds available. High security hospitals, which have been reduced in size in recent years, would be necessary to accommodate those who are at greatest risk to the public.

The study, which included all 131 prisons in England and Wales, found that only 1 in 10 psychotic prisoners are currently receiving treatment for their illnesses in prison and less than a third had ever been treated in a psychiatric hospital.

Over a third said they had never received any , which meant it was very unlikely they would receive treatment and follow-up after their release.

Although suffering from severe mental illness, their criminal histories were no less extensive than other prisoners and they appeared to be at somewhat greater risk of future offending and violence.

In December 2007, the government commissioned Lord Bradley to look into diverting people with and learning disabilities away from the .

Professor Jeremy Coid who led the study said: "Psychiatric and prison are failing severely mentally ill prisoners.

"Our research suggests that the recommendations of the Bradley Report to divert more mentally ill persons out of the criminal justice system and into mental health services is unlikely to be achieved."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The crime of mental illness

May 31, 2010

Canada needs to change its approach to mentally ill prisoners as correctional facilities worldwide contain a higher percentage of people with mental illness than the general population, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Me ...

Recommended for you

Family dinners reduce effects of cyberbullying in adolescents

3 hours ago

Sharing regular family meals with children may help protect them from the effects of cyberbullying, according to a study by McGill professor Frank Elgar, Institute for Health and Social Policy. Because family meal times represent ...

The Edwardians were also fans of brain training

9 hours ago

Brain-training programmes are all the rage. They are part of a growing digital brain-health industry that earned more than US$1 billion in revenue in 2012 and is estimated to reach US$6 billion by 2020. The extent to which they actually improve brain function re ...

Report advocates improved police training

Aug 29, 2014

A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

User comments