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Safeguarding of Prisoners: Mental Health

Volume 743: debated on Tuesday 9 January 2024

16. Whether he is taking steps to help improve the safeguarding of prisoners with mental health needs. (900810)

We are committed to improving mental health outcomes for prisoners, including recruiting additional staff, because having adequate staffing in prisons is important; investing £625,000 of funding in the Samaritans each year until March 2025, which includes the delivery of the Listener scheme; and working alongside NHS England, which is responsible for delivering mental health support services in the custodial estate to ensure that they are joined up and effective.

I have been working with a constituent whose son sadly took his own life in Pentonville last year. Although it is well established that there is a high rate of mental health problems among prisoners, the provision of support is insufficient and even reliable data on the scale of the issue is lacking. Will the Government commit to a full review of the support and safeguarding for prisoners with mental health problems?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady, and I hope that through her I can pass on my sympathies and condolences to her constituent. I am not aware of the details of that case, but if she wants to write to me, I would be happy to look at that specific case. Sadly, there are too many deaths in custody and every one is a tragedy, so I am always happy to look at ways in which we can better improve the support available to those with mental health conditions or other health conditions that might make them more vulnerable within a custodial environment.