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Reports calls for more mental health funding to support prisoners

a man behind bars
a man behind bars Image credit: ucla.edu

Around 8,000 prisoners could have been eligible for mental health treatment requirement (MHTR) but are missing out on the service due to a lack of funding.

According to The Royal College of Psychiatrists up to 1,600 people serving less than a year sentence in England and Wales should had been offered the support with an extra 6,400 prisoners sentenced to one to four years also falling into the same category.

The college believes two-thirds of prisoners handed a short sentence instead of receiving help for their mental health often re-offend within twelve months in comparison to a third of men and 15 percent of women who are given a community sentence with treatment.

RCOP is now asking the government to put £12 million of funding into ensuring prisoners receive suitable mental health support and for psychiatrists to ensure they receive sufficient help.

Professor Pamela Taylor, lead author of the study, said: "Too many people with mental disorders who get involved with criminal justice are being failed by a system that overlooks the use of mental health treatment requirements.

"Sending them to prison for quite minor offences may be dangerous for the offender-patients and may harm the wider community too.

"Reoffending rates are high when people are locked away for a short period, while their problems remain unsolved or increase.

"Thousands of people could benefit from structured, formally supervised care and treatment in the community, but mental health services don't have the resources they need to deliver mental health treatment requirements at scale.

"With this guidance, psychiatrists are committing themselves to working more and more effectively with this group of people but the government must also play its part and give mental health services the funding they need."

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the cost of sending someone to prison for a year is £35,000.