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

June 7, 2011

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."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

July 24, 2017
New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Neuroticism may postpone death for some

July 24, 2017
Data from a longitudinal study of over 500,000 people in the United Kingdom indicate that having higher levels of the personality trait neuroticism may reduce the risk of death for individuals who report being in fair or ...

Psychologists say our 'attachment style' applies to social networks like Facebook

July 24, 2017
A new investigation appearing this week in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests a strong association between a person's attachment style—how avoidant or anxious people are in their close relationships—and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.