Fewer women should be sent to prison and there
should be early access to adequate care for detained women with
mental health problems, says a report by rehabilitation agency
Nacro published this week.
report notes that the female prison population peaked in October at
4,040, an increase of 18 per cent on the previous year.
says that too many people with mental health problems are being
sent to prison. A 1997 Office for National Statistics survey found
that 50 per cent of female prisoners had a personality disorder, 66
per cent had a neurotic disorder and functional psychosis was found
in 14 per cent. Thirty-eight per cent reported hazardous drinking
prior to imprisonment and 44 per cent had some drug
Nacro report says that this situation “is exacerbated by the fact
that mental health services for prisoners, especially women
prisoners, are woefully inadequate”.
adds that imprisonment is more detrimental to women than men and
can have long-term effects on them, their children and
Nacro’s main recommendation urges
the government’s women and equality unit to assume a more proactive
role on women offenders.
of Nacro’s mental health unit Graeme Sandell said: “This requires
action at the highest level. Mental health care for male prisoners
needs improving. For female prisoners, problems are much
‘one size fits all’ approach will inevitably serve to discriminate
against women, some of whom have profound mental health
difficulties,” Sandell said.
Women Who Challenge from Nacro on 020 7582