HC Deb 26 October 1993 vol 230 cc603-4W
Mr. Redmond

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she will reply to Dr. John Reed, principal medical officer at her Department to his recommendations made last November in respect of improvements to the treatment of offenders with mental disorders; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Bowis

I refer the hon. Member to the reply that my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo) gave my hon. Friend the Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) on 27 November 1992 at cols.873–74.

We have endorsed the guiding principles of the joint Department of Health/Home Office review, which point in particular to services being provided, as far as is compatible with public safety, in more local and less institutional settings. In addition we have reaffirmed the policy that, wherever possible, mentally disordered offenders should be cared for and treated by health and social services rather than in the criminal justice system.

The implementation of these recommendations falls largely to the agencies concerned at local level. We have made services for mentally disordered offenders a first order priority for the national health service in 1994–95. This means that health authorities are required to work with personal social services and criminal justice agencies to develop strategic and purchasing plans for services for mentally disordered offenders, based on the recommendations of the interdepartmental review. Regional health authorities are currently carrying out an assessment of the need for these services which builds on an initial assessment last year.

We have increased central capital funding for mediurn secure psychiatric services from £3 million in 1991–92 to £17 million in 1992–93, and have made available a further £22 million in 1993–94. We have also made a total of £422,000 available in 1992–93 and 1993–94 for pump-priming of local multi-agency initiatives to help mentally disordered offenders. We have received many imaginative proposals and have so far allocated funds to 61 schemes. The Home Office has provided funds to assist the development of Court assessment and diversion schemes. At least 60 of these schemes are now operating in England, of which 26 are receiving central funding this year.

The committee which we set up to advise the Department of Health and the Home Office on action to follow up the review has been appointed and has held its first meeting. We fully recognise the importance of sustaining the development of these services and will take full account of the committee's advice in taking this forward.

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