Centre welcomes new suicide prevention strategy but calls for further use of diversion to reduce suicides in custody

10 September 2012

“More than 70 per cent of men and 90 per cent of women in contact with the criminal justice system have a mental health problem, which, as we know, is one of the primary risk factors for suicide. Many of these people will also have additional needs, such as a drug or alcohol problem or a learning difficulty. Measures such as prison inreach teams have helped to reduce the number of self inflicted deaths in custody but to tackle the root cause of the problem we must make sure that people with mental health problems are diverted towards mental health treatment that meets their specific needs as soon as they enter the criminal justice system."

Andy Bell, deputy chief executive at Centre for Mental Health said today, commenting on the Government’s new strategy for reducing the suicide rate.

“Men who are in prison are still more than four times more likely to commit suicide than men who are not and the outlook for women and children is even worse. Women in prison are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than women who are not in prison and boys aged 15-17 are 18 times more likely to take their own life than a child of the same age in the community.

“The further provision of appropriate options for diversion from custody and greater use of the Mental Health Treatment Requirement as part of community sentencing will go a long way towards ensuring that people in the criminal justice system receive the mental health treatment they need.”

  

Mental health care and the criminal justice system

Briefing paper 39: Mental health care and the criminal justice system This briefing paper examines the provision of mental health care for adults in the criminal justice system. It looks at what has been achieved to date and identifies priorities for further work.

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