Money should be ring-fenced to fund psychiatric assessments to divert prisoners with mental health problems into the health and social care systems, Nacro announced today.
In a 10-point plan to solve the current prisons overcrowding crisis, the rehabilitation agency also called for legislation to ensure that custody was not considered for young people unless all alternatives had been exhausted.
Other proposals included removing prison as an option for low-level offences and requiring the courts to take prison capacity into account when sentencing.
The call comes after home secretary John Reid called on courts to impose community sentences on lower-level offenders to help manage prison numbers, which have reached breaking point.
The news follows the resignation of Rod Morgan as chair of the Youth Justice Board after he was told that his contract would not be renewed.
Mental health information