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Mentally Abnormal Offenders

Volume 958: debated on Monday 20 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mentally abnormal offenders are in (a) prisons and (b) other prison Department establishments; if he will list the number at each location; and how many were unsentenced.

On 30th June 1978, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 581 persons held in prison department establishments who were considered by prison medical officers to be suffering from mental disorder of a nature or degree warranting their detention in hospital for medical treatment under the Mental Health Act 1959. Of these 377 were serving a sentence.A breakdown of the figures, by category and by establishment, is given in the following table:

INMATES CONSIDERED TO BE SUFFERING FROM MENTAL DISORDER WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE MENTAL HEALTH ACT 1959 IN CUSTODY ON 30TH JUNE 1978

Sentenced

Unsentenced

Total (including Non-Criminal)

Establishments

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

MALES—
Remand centres—
Ashford415415
Risley1111131214
Winchester1111112
112522963211
Local prisons—
Bedford1121143115
Birmingham221621818220
Bristol1111
Brixton55555555
Canterbury2135167119
Cardiff11133144127
Dorchester2222
Durham1124112125
Exeter9161691616
Gloucester223355
Leeds115566
Leicester1166617
Lewes314314
Liverpool617617
Manchester4444
Norwich2222
Oxford12362816631019
Pentonville11138*8*9*1111*
Swansea3227223429
Wandsworth143174418321
Winchester1110101111
Wormwood Scrubs1011110111
59101887131*811150*190*1829237*

Sentenced

Unsentenced

Total (including Non-Criminal)

Establishments

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

Adult closed training prisons—
Albany8223082230
Blundeston21142114
Camp Hill314314
Coldingley1111
Dartmoor549549
Featherstone1111
Gartree734353734353
Kingston (Portsmouth)6666
Long Lartin1111
Maidstone718718
Parkhurst264571264571
Reading1111
Stafford21252125
Wakefield173653173653
77131572477713157247
YP closed training prisons—
Aylesbury729729
Exeter1111
Onley1111
Swinfen Hall213213
101314101314
Adult open training prison Ashwell1111
Closed borstals—
Feltham358358
Rochester1111
459459

Sentenced

Unsentenced

Total (including Non-Criminal)

Establishments

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

FEMALES—
Remand centres—
Pucklechurch226398311
Risley11415516
33101314131317
Closed prisons—
Durham13371337
Holloway11125152143116131636
Styal2222
414514152143119161945
Total (male)15225183360136*1013159*288*35196519*
Total (female)714517253174532172262
Total (male and female)159129188377161*1330204*320*142218581*

* Includes four Non-Criminal mental cases.

Category of Mental Disorder—
M—Mental Illness.
SS—Severe Subnormality.
S—Subnormality.
P—Psychopathic Disorder.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mentally abnormal prisoners are currently awaiting transfer to NHS hospitals; and how long they have been waiting.

The cases of five prisoners, reported to be suffering from mental disorder warranting their detention in hospital for treatment, are currently unresolved following approaches to the relevant regional health authority. The approach was made in July 1978 in two cases, and in September 1978 in three cases. Hospitals have agreed to admit two further prisoners, once a bed is available, following approaches made to them in June.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that mentally abnormal persons should have to be in prison.

We are concerned about those cases where a prisoner is suffering from mental disorder of a nature or degree warranting detention in hospital for medical treatment under the Mental Health Act 1959, but where my right hon. Friend cannot make an order directing transfer to hospital because a suitable hospital place cannot be found. The majority of mentally abnormal prisoners are not mentally disordered to this degree and it is for the courts when passing sentence on such persons to decide whether imprisonment or some other penalty or order is appropriate.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he remains satisfied that mentally abnormal offenders are adequately cared for in prison.

Prison medical officers and other prison staff care for mentally abnormal offenders to the best of their ability within the resources and powers available to them. But where the offender is suffering from mental disorder of a nature or degree warranting detention in hospital for medical treatment under the Mental Health Act 1959 it is clearly desirable that he should be in a suitable hospital rather than cared for under the constraints imposed by the prison environment.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will give a full account of the steps he has taken to transfer mentally abnormal prisoners to NHS hospitals and the difficulties he has encountered;(2) if he will list those hospitals that have refused to take mentally abnormal prisoners.

When it is decided to seek the transfer to an NHS hospital under section 72 of the Mental Health Act 1959, of a sentenced prisoner reported to be suffering from a mental disorder warranting detention in a hospital for medical treatment, the health authority for the prisoner's home area is sent details of the case and asked to make a bed available in a suitable hospital.I am not aware of any NHS hospitals which have refused to take mentally disordered prisoners in principle. In those instances where the health authority has not felt able to accept the prisoner the grounds for refusal are often that the available resources are insufficient to cater for the particular case. The general problem is the subject of continuing discussion between the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Security.