HC Deb 19 December 1946 vol 431 cc2167-8
69. Mr. Hale

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many penal institutions the services of a resident psychiatrist are available for, the treatment of the neuroses of persons detained.

Mr. Oliver

There are no resident psychiatrists at penal establishments. The preliminary investigation of cases in which any question of mental condition arises is undertaken by the skilled medical staff, many of whom have special experience and qualifications in psychiatry, and cases which appear to be suitable for treatment are transferred to a prison in London where further investigation and treatment, if required, are carried out by visiting psychiatrists.

Mr. Hale

Is my hon. Friend aware that prison doctors and others have made it quite clear time after time that sexual offenders are told that they will see a psychiatrist and get treatment when in prison, although in fact the treatment is not available and the prisoners never receive it?

Mr. Hector Hughes

How many prisoners does each psychiatrist have to look after? What steps are taken to increase the number of psychiatrists?

Mr. Oliver

I cannot answer the last part of my hon. and learned Friend's question. The view of the Department is, that it is a great advantage to have outside psychiatrists working inside the prisons. In the view of the Department much advantage has been derived thereby.

Mr. Hughes

Can I have an answer TO the first part of my supplementary question?

Mr. Renton

Is the hon. Member aware that the situation referred to by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) is largely due to the fact that many psychiatrists get it into their heads that criminals who are perfectly healthy mentally are not responsible for their actions? Will he ensure that psychiatrists go about their work in such a way as not to take that view?

Mr. Oliver

I was not aware that that was done.

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