Prisons: Suicides Debate

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Department: Scotland Office

Prisons: Suicides

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Excerpts
Wednesday 31st January 2024

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Stewart of Dirleton Portrait Lord Stewart of Dirleton (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for that question. IPP prisoners are a matter of concern to many noble Lords. It remains a priority for the Government that all those on IPP sentences receive the support they need to progress towards safe release from custody. The Government continue to focus on the rehabilitation of IPP prisoners through a refreshed and updated action plan, published in April 2023, providing a robust and effective sentence plan tailored to individual needs and recognising the difficulties, of which the right reverend Prelate is aware, of persons facing a very long period of incarceration and the attendant difficulties that that causes them emotionally.

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames Portrait Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD)
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My Lords, the House will understand the answers given by the noble and learned Lord in relation to the training of individual officers, but that does not deal with the problem of increasing suicides attributable to really serious staff shortages. Increased numbers of staff have to be taken alongside increasing prisoner populations. So what is being done to improve the detection and diagnosis of mental ill-health of prisoners and, crucially, what steps are being taken to improve or reduce waiting times for psychiatric treatment and placement of prisoners in hospitals where hospital placements are needed for mentally ill prisoners?

Lord Stewart of Dirleton Portrait Lord Stewart of Dirleton (Con)
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My Lords, most prisoners with mental health needs are able to receive the care and treatment that they need within prison. The group to which the noble Lord refers, those with acute problems requiring treatment in hospital, have to be referred, assessed and transferred to hospital under the Mental Health Act. We are determined to ensure that these transfers take place in a timely manner. We are working with health and justice partners and will continue to work to provide a non-statutory independent role designed to improve oversight and to monitor delivery of the 28-day time limit for transfers set out in NHS England’s good practice guidance. There is also a pilot health and justice hub in the north-east of England, improving the way in which courts, health services and prisons work together at local levels better to support those with severe mental illness, with a view to smoothing their pathway into the correct treatment.