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Protect the public by treating prisoners’ mental health, says Islwyn MP

Chris Evans, the Member of Parliament for Islwyn, has called on the government to reform the treatment of mental health issues in prisons to better protect the public once prisoners are released.

Speaking at a Westminster Hall debate on mental health in prisons, the Labour MP urged the government to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment of prisoners while they are in prison. He also urged more information sharing to ensure treatment continues upon release.

A June 2017 report by the National Audit Office found the most recent figures show 37% of prisoners report mental health issues while only 10% receive treatment and the rate of self-harm and suicide in prisons is rising quickly.

Mr Evans said: ‘A significant number of prisoners have mental health and behavioural issues which must be treated if they can be expected to reintegrate and become constructive members of society. Yet all too often prisoners receive deeply unsatisfactory treatment while in prison and upon release.

‘If the government is serious about protecting the public, they must treat mental health in prisons properly and effectively. Reform is clearly needed to ensure proper diagnosis and follow-up, including the sharing of information once prisoners are released.

‘If the government takes this matter seriously and does everything within its power to tackle this problem, I truly believe we will all be safer because rates of re-offending could be reduced. It could even save lives.’