HC Deb 09 February 2001 vol 362 cc737-8W
Mr. Laurence Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of prisoners who suffer from mental health problems; what services are available to help them; what funding is provided for their treatment; and if he will make a statement. [149681]

Mr. Boateng

A survey of psychiatric morbidity among prisoners in England and Wales, undertaken in 1997 by the Office for National Statistics for the Department of Health, showed that around 90 per cent. of prisoners sampled displayed evidence of at least one of the five disorders (personality disorder, psychosis, neurosis, alcohol misuse and drug dependence) considered in the survey.

Prisoners who need in-patient treatment for mental disorder may be transferred to psychiatric hospitals. The care and treatment of prisoners who do not need to be admitted to hospital is generally undertaken by prison health care staff under the supervision of national health service specialists.

The Government's programme of reform for prison health care was set out in "The Future Organisation of Prison Healthcare" (March 1999). All prisons and the health authorities in which they are situated are required by March 2001, jointly to assess prisoners' health needs and to identify appropriate services to meet them. These services should include the development, over time, of in-reach into prisons by community mental health services as part of the broader development of mental health services as set out in the national service framework for mental health. Under the Government's NHS Plan an additional 300 staff will be employed by 2004 to provide such in-reach services to prisoners.