News Round-up

Keeping the Family in Mind

Children’s charity Barnardo’s has re-launched its award-winning resource pack for practitioners working with children whose parents are experiencing mental illness.

The fully revised ‘Keeping the Family in Mind’ pack includes a brand new report on Parents in Hospital, written with the Mental Health Act Commission, which provides an in-depth guide to family contact in mental health settings. There is also a case studies DVD featuring mental health service users recounting their experiences.

To find out more about ‘Keeping the Family in Mind’, click here

Conference brings North Wales prison plan into focus

UK Government Justice Minister David Hanson spoke this week at a conference held in Llandudno to discuss plans to create a new prison in North Wales.

Wales currently has five prisons, all in the south.

Four sites – the former Ferodo factory at Caernarfon, Shell Rhosgoch on Anglesey, Bryn-y-Neuadd at Llanfairfechan and the former Firestone factory on Wrexham industrial estate – have all been earmarked as possible locations.

Mr Hanson, who is also MP for the Delyn constituency in the north-west of Flintshire, spoke by video-link at the conference, which was held by the North Wales Criminal Justice Board. Other speakers included Lord Justice Thomas, formerly the Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales, and Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales Police and a host of experts from the criminal justice system.

The North Wales prison plan follows a Welsh Select Committee report in June this year which pointed out the problems caused by the lack of a jail in the north of the country.

The report concluded that dislocation of Welsh prisoners from their local communities was exacerbating mental health problems and working against effective continuity of care especially after release, and went on to recommend a new prison be built as soon as possible in North Wales.

Research conducted by the BMA suggests that around 70% of sentenced prisoners in the UK have one or more mental disorders, while an estimated 7% of the Welsh male prison population are currently experiencing psychosis.

Mental Health Act – race equality assessment was “inadequate”

A new report by the Commission for Race Equality (CRE) claims that the Department of Health failed to conduct an adequate assessment of the potential disproportionate impact on black and minority ethnic people of the new Mental Health Act.

Under the Race Relations Act, public bodies are required to conduct a race equality impact assessment (REIA) of any new policies and laws, and while this was carried out in the case of the Mental Health Act 2007, the CRE says the assessment was flawed.

The report concluded: “No attempt was made to identify possible solutions to adverse impacts identified by the assessment. It is simply not acceptable to go through the motions of an REIA and fall at the final hurdle – any part of a policy identified as having a negative impact on any ethnic group must be removed or at the very least the impact mitigated.”

The CRE says the Department of Health must monitor the new Mental Health Act for its race equality and publish the findings.

Report reveals hospital detention death toll

Forty-one people died by suicide while detained in hospitals in England and Wales under the Mental Health Act last year, according to the first annual report from the Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody. This compares with 44 suicides in 2005-6 and 35 in 2004-5.

The Forum is responsible for monitoring all deaths in custody in England and Wales and ensuring lessons are learned across policy custody, prisons, detention centres and mental health units.

Of the suicides in the last year in mental hospitals, 25 were men and 16 were women.