Proposed Bill Targets Prison Mental Health Services

A private members’ bill proposed in parliament this week by Conservative MP Charles Hendry aims to make it law for prisons to provide appropriate treatment to mentally ill inmates. Speaking in Parliament, Hendry stated that a constituent of his who suffered from mental illness and who eventually committed suicide in part inspired the bill.

Hendry commented: “The neglect of prisoners with mental health problems or learning difficulties shames the prison system and our whole society. Locking someone with mental health needs in a prison cell, for perhaps 18 hours a day without specialist mental health support, is a completely inappropriate response to the crimes they have committed and does not make our society safer in the long-run.

“Mental illness or learning difficulties do not excuse the crime. But as a society we have a duty to try and treat and correct the disproportionate numbers of prisoners who suffer these problems. This Bill would help achieve this.”

The proposed bill will have its second reading next year; however, it is not expected to become law.

Welsh mental health charity Hafal recently produced a report on the criminal justice landscape in Wales – click here to view it.