A tribute to Lord (David) Ramsbotham

15 December 2022

On behalf of all of the staff and trustees of Centre for Mental Health, we send our condolences to the family of our Vice President and dear friend Lord Ramsbotham, who died on Tuesday in hospital.

David Ramsbotham was a man who made a difference. As Chief Inspector of Prisons, he led the way in demanding action to bring greater humanity and compassion to the prison system. Among many achievements, he instigated a vital change in 2001 to bring the NHS into every prison healthcare service in England and Wales. This was a pivotal moment for prison healthcare.

We were immensely fortunate at Centre for Mental Health to have David’s encouragement and strong support for our work to improve mental health care in prisons and to create systemic change to divert people with mental health difficulties from custody. His advocacy for the cause was instrumental in bringing about the improvements we have seen in the last two decades to the mental health services available to prisoners and to the development of liaison and diversion services.

David was passionate about our work and a great supporter of our people. He was a mentor to our chair, Sue Bailey. He supported Lord Bradley’s independent review of mental health support in the criminal justice system in 2009. And he visited the Centre on numerous occasions to listen to our team share our work and the insights that came from it. He brought enormous enthusiasm and a listening ear to the organisation.

Lord Ramsbotham’s decency, humanity, humility and passion for change have inspired many of us. He showed that the ability to listen to people’s stories and pay attention to evidence is essential for the creation of good and just social policy. He demonstrated the value of persistence, of always being a voice for change, of never giving up on people and always living by his values.

We are enormously grateful to David Ramsbotham that he chose to support our charity and our cause. We enjoyed his friendship and we share the sadness of his loss with his family. And we will be spurred on by his example to keep making the case for humanity throughout our justice system.

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