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Remand Prisoners

Volume 175: debated on Thursday 5 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners currently under sentence or on remand in England and Wales are (a) mentally ill or (b) have a psychiatric history for the latest date available; and if he will make a statement.

The number of inmates with a psychiatric history is not recorded centrally. On 30 September 1989, the latest date for which figures are available, 329 inmates—140 sentenced and 189 unsentenced—were reported by prison medical officers to be mentally disordered as defined by the Mental Health Act 1983. Of these, 264–90 sentenced and 174 unsentenced—were reported to be mentally ill.On 30 June 1979 prison medical officers considered that 557 inmates were detainable within the terms of the legislation then in force. On the census dates in recent years the number has fluctuated between 250 and 350.The Government encourage the diversion of mentally disordered offenders from the penal system whenever custody is not necessary in the public interest.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many psychiatric reports were prepared on remand prisoners in England and Wales for the latest year available; and if he will make a statement.

A court requiring medical advice on a defendant's mental condition may remand that person to prison for a report. During the period 1 April 1988 to 31 March 1989 a total of 6,081 psychiatric reports to court, including 512 offered where not specifically requested were prepared by prison medical officers.The Government encourage the use of other means of obtaining such reports including bail or remand to hospital where custody is not necessary in the public interest.