HC Deb 09 June 2004 vol 422 cc431-2W
Chris Ruane

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what percentage of prisoners(a) were dyslexic, (b) autistic and (c) had eating disorders on the latest date for which figures are available. [174960]

Paul Goggins

Information is not collected centrally about the number and percentage of prisoners who are dyslexic, autistic or have eating disorders. Past research suggests that the proportion of prisoners suffering from dyslexia could range from four to over 17 per cent. A new prison dyslexia project, currently under way in Yorkshire and Humberside, is designed to provide an authoritative answer to the question of the incidence of dyslexia and related learning disabilities among the prison population. This report is expected at the end of the summer.

In a survey of mental ill health in the prison population undertaken by the Office for National Statistics in 1997, 6 per cent. of women prisoners reported having been diagnosed at some time in their lives with anorexia and 14 per cent. with bulimia.

It is possible that Autistic Spectrum Disorders among the prison population may be under-diagnosed. The Prison Service, Prison Health and the Youth Justice Board have jointly appointed a Programme Manager for Juvenile Health This appointment is expected to lead, among other things, to a greater understanding of the nature and prevalence of all conditions—including autism—in the juvenile population. This in turn should lead to better diagnosis and assessment in individual cases and improved commissioning of appropriate services.

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