Expert underlines mental health fears

    There could be more than a thousand prisoners with mental health
    problems being inappropriately held in prison, an expert told the
    inquiry into the death of Zahid Mubarek at Feltham Young Offender
    Institution last week.

    Professor John Gunn, former chair of forensic psychiatry at the
    Royal College of Psychiatrists, told the inquiry that the prison
    population had increased by 50 per cent since a national survey he
    conducted in 1991 revealed that “at least” 1,000 mentally
    disordered prisoners had been “wrongly” placed in prison.

    “There are a lot of prisoners… who have slipped through the
    nets… who should be in the NHS under prison policy,” Gunn
    said.

    His comments follow claims by former prison service director
    general Martin Narey earlier this month that Mubarek’s killer
    Robert Stewart was just one of an “overwhelming” number of
    prisoners with mental illness who did not receive psychiatric
    care.

    Gunn, who was commissioned to write an independent report for the
    inquiry, added that prison staff had “wasted” an opportunity to
    provide a proper psychiatric assessment of Stewart. He told the
    inquiry that a proper assessment might have prevented Stewart and
    Mubarek being placed in the same cell.

    “At the very least, a psychiatric assessment would have given a lot
    more information. It a possibility which I believe should have been
    raised,” Gunn said. “It may well have got through the system that
    this man was not a man to be put in a cell with another
    person.”
    The inquiry continues.

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