Government must do more to prevent women with
mental health problems being sent to prison, a Prison Reform Trust
conference was told last week.
The trust’s director Juliet Lyon told
delegates that “locking up women who are mentally ill is a crime in
itself”. She said women in prison needed “a range of community
mental health services including psychiatric support and drug
treatment and, in some cases, in-patient or secure care”.
According to the trust, 40 per cent of women
who have been to prison received help for mental health problems in
the year before their imprisonment. Two-thirds of women in prison
have a neurotic disorder, such as depression or phobia. One in four
women in prison spent time in local authority care as a child.
Home Office minister for prisons Beverley
Hughes announced at the conference that a further 25 prisons will
join the Mental Health In-reach Project next year, including three
women’s prisons at Brockhill, New Hall and Styal. The project uses
multi-disciplinary teams to provide services to prisoners.
Health minister Jacqui Smith said: “The
potential for reducing re-offendingÉ among prisoners is huge,
and the project is beginning to produce real benefits for