HL Deb 27 November 1984 vol 457 cc885-6WA
The Earl of Longford

asked Her Majesty's Government: What steps they are taking to respond to the statement of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, in his report for 1983, that many mentally ill offenders are at present inappropriately confined to prison.

Lord Elton

The Government are making headway in transferring to hospital sentenced prisoners who are mentally disordered within the terms of the Mental Health Act 1983. The latest statistical return shows that on 30th September the number of such prisoners held in Prison Department establishments fell below 100 for the first time since recording began in 1977. From 1st October the courts have had available to them new powers under the same Act to remand to hospital for reports or for treatment. For prisoners who cannot be transferred under the Mental Health Act we are planning to extend the range of psychiatric facilities, for example by reopening the therapeutic unit formerly housed at Parkhurst. We have also doubled the length of training for hospital officers, using the whole of this additional time to give them instruction in nursing mentally disturbed prisoners.