The Prison Reform Trust has called on the government to clarify legal responsibilities over prison social care after publishing research today showing many older prisoners were facing “isolation and discrimination”.
The report, based on interviews with current and ex-prisoners over the age of 60, found that social services departments were only rarely called in to provide support. As a result, some incontinent older prisoners were being left to wet themselves and some wheelchair users reported being unable to join in with prison activities.
One older prisoner interviewed said: “I can’t get my wheelchair through the door of my room and I have to try and get from the entrance to my bed. When it’s mealtime someone has to collect my food and bring it to me”
Threefold increase in number of older prisoners
The latest figures show that there are 2,242 over-60s in prisons, three times the number in 1996. The charity said that it was “unclear” exactly who was responsible for providing social care in prisons.
Director Juliet Lyon said that prisons were struggling to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act. She added: “More and more older people are being locked up in prisons designed and run for young men. Some older prisoners face the double punishment of poor treatment and conditions. It would make more sense to develop appropriate secure accommodation for the elderly or to use effective community punishments.”
The Department of Health launched a strategy last November to improve health and social care in prisons. This said that service users sentenced to prison should receive continuity of care and a similar quality of service in custody as in the community.