As part of its investigation into offender mental health in London, the London Assembly Health Committee held a public discussion on 19 April 2017, and sent out a call for evidence to stakeholders in both the public and voluntary sectors. We also visited the St Giles Trust to speak with service users and front-line practitioners, as well as hosting a round table with the Revolving Door Agency and ex-offenders.
Key findings on mental health for offenders:-
• Offenders and ex-offenders are particularly vulnerable before, during and after contact with the criminal justice system – and some groups are particularly at risk.
• More people are coming into contact with the police and criminal justice system due to poor mental health and the strain on mental health services.
• Prison environments in London are disastrous, although leaving prison can be as traumatic as entering, particularly where resettlement needs are not identified and met.
• Probation services are struggling to handle the mental health needs of their service users.
• Improving mental health support for offenders and ex-offenders will require a range of interventions including better joint working and data sharing.
• Crucially, London needs to find alternatives to prison sentences and support rehabilitation in the community.
• Supporting ex-offenders into housing and employment improves prospects and reduces the risk of re-offending.
• The Mayor is strongly placed to press for reform and to support changes to transform the outlook for ex-offenders.