Public Accounts Committee inquiry and report: Mental Health in Prisons

The Public Accounts Committee launched an inquiry into mental health in prison in October 2017.  A report (pdf)was published in December 2017.

Chair of the Committee, Meg Hillier MP, said:

‘There are deep-rooted failures in the management of prisoners’ mental health, reflected in what is an appalling toll of self-inflicted deaths and self-harm.’

The report concluded:

  1. The deteriorating prison estate and long-standing under-staffing have created an environment which exacerbates the mental health issues faced by prisoners
  2. The failure to establish effective screening procedures means the Ministry of Justice, HM Prison and Probation Service and NHS England do not know the full extent of the number of prisoners with mental health issues
  3. Increased availability of drugs in prisons has contributed to the increase in mental health issues of prisoners
  4. Poor co-ordination and a lack of sharing information means that prisoners are not receiving continuity of treatment as they move between prison and the community
  5. It is a disgrace that too many prisoners wait far too long to be transferred to hospital or secure units
  6. NHS England’s oversight of its contracts to provide mental health services has been weak

…and made a series of recommendations for improvement.

Read a summary or download the full report (pdf).

BackgroundScope of the inquiry

Despite setting ambitious objectives for providing mental health services to prisoners, the Government does not know how many people in prisons have a mental illness, or how much it is spending on treating them, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report.

 

The Public Accounts Committee will ask NHS England, HM Prisons and Probation Service and Ministry of Justice about how they are working together to secure reliable data on incidences of mental illness among prisoners, why reliable data does not yet exist, and how at a time of budgetary pressure they will ensure to provide healthcare provision to those prisoners who need it.