Mental health and criminal justice


Views from consultations across England & Wales

Dr Graham Durcan

21 April 2016

With extremely high rates of mental ill-health among the prison population, Mental health and criminal justice draws on experiences from across England and Wales to determine the way forward for improvement.

Commissioned by the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice, the Centre's Dr Graham Durcan identified key areas for improvement across the criminal justice system. Consultations were held across England and Wales to review the experiences of over 200 people with personal or professional knowledge of the interfaces between the criminal justice system and mental health services.

Watch Dr Graham Durcan explain some of the key points of the report: 

The report finds that few of the prisons represented at the events were able to offer psychological therapies, and that primary mental health care remains the weakest element of mental health support in prisons. For many people, leaving prison is a time of crisis. Many have nowhere to live and no source of income. The report calls for a new ‘concordat’ between different government agencies to join together better to help people through this difficult time.

In addition, participants felt there was a need for:

  • Robust screening and assessment processes for a range of vulnerabilities in all justice settings;
  • Wider availability of support and care for people’s vulnerabilities regardless of setting;
  • Providing pragmatic and practical support (e.g. with housing and debt) at critical periods (e.g. on release from prison);
  • Adopting a psychological and trauma focused approach across all justice services and providing training in these for all who work in them;
  • Increasing access in both the community and custodial settings to psychological interventions that are adapted to reflect complex and multiple need;
  • Increasing the use of mentors and peers, and the voice of service users in the planning and provision of services.

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