The prison and courts bill has its second reading in parliament tomorow. For the first time, the purpose of prisons will be enshrined in law. We support the Royal College of Psychiatrists in urging the government to ensure prisons meet the mental and physical health needs of prisoners. Almost a quarter of the prison population suffers from personality disorders, bipolar disorder or depression. Prisoners will eventually return to the community. When they are released, any untreated mental illness is released with them. Prisons must be clearly responsible for tackling the mental disorders, which if left untreated, could cause prisoners to reoffend. The prison and courts bill is an opportunity to prevent prison suicide, reduce reoffending and foster rehabilitation. We urge the government not to waste it.
Norman Lamb MP Lib Dem health lead, Richard Burgon MP Shadow secretary of state for Justice, Dan Poulter MP Former health minister (Conservative), Kate Green MP Vice-chair, all-party parliamentary group on penal affairs (Labour), Johnny Mercer MP Vice-chair, APPG on mental health (Conservative)
• There are several reasons which couldhelp the governmentto explain why England and Wales have the highest imprisonment rate in western Europe (Report, 15 March). There is shocking deprivation in many cities and ever-rising homelessness. The single adult unemployment benefit is £73.10 a week; it has reduced in value since 1979 and has not been increased since April 2015. That £73.10 a week is incapable of providing a healthy diet and other necessities for a woman during the development of a child in her womb. Poor maternal nutrition and low birth weight have, since 1972, been called he strongest predictor of poor learning ability, school performance, behavioral disorders and crime by the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
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