HC Deb 23 November 1979 vol 974 c391W
Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps he will take to carry out his Department's responsibilities towards mentally disordered offenders in prison, as recommended by the May committee;

(2) whether he will make a statement on his policy on those parts of the May committee report that affect his Department.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

The mentally disordered offender presents very real problems. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department explained in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Heddle) on 7 November, he and I accept that it is undesirable to detain in prison prisoners whose mental disorder permits them to be detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act. It is estimated that at any one time some 200 sentenced mentally-ill prisoners fall into this category. We shall continue our efforts to have such people transferred to hospitals with appropriate levels of security.

There is, however, a large number of offenders serving prison sentences who exhibit disturbed behaviour but whose mental disorder does not permit their detention in hospital under the terms of the Mental Health Act; adequate provision must be made in the prison system for them, and the National Health Service must make psychiatric care available to them after they are released. In our continuing efforts to ensure that facilities are provided for the various groups of people referred to by the Committee my right hon. Friend and I will take careful account of the recommendations made in the Report.—[Vol. 973, c. 172–73.]

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