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Prisoners: Mental Health

Volume 720: debated on Tuesday 18 October 2022

The Government published the draft Mental Health Bill in June, and it is now subject to pre-legislative scrutiny. It includes vital reforms to support people with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system by speeding up access to specialist in-patient care and treatment, and it seeks to end the use of prison as a place of safety. The Bill will introduce a new statutory time limit of 28 days for transfers from prison to hospital.

As the Minister is aware, a very high percentage of prisoners have mental health problems. It may also be the case that they end up in prison because of mental health issues. Will the Ministry of Justice work more closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and other people who can provide mental health services to try to stop the spiral?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am pleased to tell him that the Government are working very closely with the national health service. I will give two quick examples. We know that people leaving custody present a risk of reoffending, so we work with NHS England on a project called RECONNECT, which offers prison leavers targeted support to ensure they go to their appointments in the community to help them on their journey. At primary level, we are rolling out community sentence treatment requirements, including mental health treatment requirements. NHS England is on track to roll them out to every court in England by the end of 2024.