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Offenders: Mentally Ill

Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether training is provided to prison service staff on working with mentally ill female offenders. (302327)

Training for newly recruited prison officers provides officers with an understanding of mental health disorders and how to respond effectively to all prisoners (including women) experiencing mental ill health. Further training is available to prison officers throughout their career depending on their role within their prison. Training makes specific reference to issues affecting women, where appropriate. All training provides prison officers with the knowledge to identify offenders with mental health issues and refer to appropriate health care professionals.

Prison Service Order 4800, published in April 2008 for implementation in all women’s prisons in 2009, provides a set of gender specific standards for women prisoners. The standards draw from existing best practice and cover all areas of regime provision including reception into custody, day to day living in the prison environment and planning for resettlement, as well as discrete groups of women. The main thrust of the standards is about being sensitive and responsive to gender specific needs and addressing them appropriately, in particular through the positive engagement of staff. It is largely a case of good staff training and support, and the introduction of the Women’s Awareness Staff Programme training has therefore been key.