Karl Turner MP today raised the important issue of mental health in prisons and asked the Prisons Minister what the government was doing to get a grip on the mental health crisis that is currently affecting our prisons service.
The suicide rate in prisons is at a 25 year high with 102 suicides recorded in the 12 months to September. This comes at a time when there has been a reported 36,440 incidents of self harm in the same 12 month period – an increase of 26% on the previous year.
The Howard League reported on 28th November that 102 people have lost their lives through suicide in prisons in England and Wales in 2016 and that the prison suicide rate, at 120 deaths per 100,000 people, is about 10 times higher than the rate in the general population.
The jointly-produced Howard League for Penal Reform and Mental Health report,
Preventing Prison Suicides, published on 28th November, identified a number of areas
contributing to vulnerability, including personal and contextual risk factors such as historic mental health problems, exposure to trauma and abuse, having lived in care, homelessness, drug use, receiving a sentence later in life, risk of deportation and child custody concern; aspects of prison life that impact vulnerability such as the prison routine, the prison environment, staffing resources; mental health intervention in prison, such as mental health services, safer cells, external projects and listening schemes and whether prison was the right intervention.
Speaking afterwards Karl Turner, Labour MP for East Hull said “It is simply not good enough that the Health Secretary has yet to visit a prison mental health facility and it seems neither has the Justice Secretary.
“We are currently in the midst of a prisons crisis and the Government needs to get a grip on what is frankly an out of control situation.
“Prisoners should have access to the same care and mental health resources as anyone else and it is deplorable that this government is yet to find a solution to this problem”
You can see Karl’s question to the Prisons Minister here