‘Keep mentally ill out of custody’

The father of a girl who committed suicide in New Hall prison
last November has called for people with mental health problems not
to be placed in prisons, writes Clare

Pledging his support for Community Care’s
“Back on Track” campaign to reduce the number of young
people in custody, Peter Blanksby said that, if his daughter Petra
(pictured) had not been placed in custody, she would be alive

Petra, who had been in the care system from the age of nine and
self-harming since the age of 13, was remanded in prison after
being charged with arson with intent for trying to kill herself by
setting alight the bungalow she was living in.

During the 130 days she spent in prison, Petra self-harmed on 92
occasions before killing herself, aged 19, last November.

Community Care
launched its campaign in July aimed at reducing
the number of youth offenders held in custody. Backed by MPs and
welfare groups, the campaign points a 100 per cent increase in
custodial sentences for youth offenders over the last 10 years. It
also highlights high levels of mental health problems and isolation
from mainstream schooling within this group of offenders.

To support Community Care’s campaign go to www.communitycare.co.uk/backontrack


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