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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Diversion from custody makes business sense, say charities and psychiatrists

Embargoed until 15 February 2011

Diverting offenders with mental health problems from short prison sentences to community alternatives costs much less and is more likely to rehabilitate them, according to figures drawn together by the charities Centre for Mental Health and Rethink, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Diversion: the Business Case for Action shows that even with intensive community supervision for up to two years, diversion from custody is still much cheaper than just a few weeks in prison. And there is growing evidence that well-designed diversion schemes can help to reduce reoffending by one third.

Professor Dinesh Bhugra, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "Ensuring that mentally ill offenders get the right mental healthcare must be a priority. We know that 90% of prisoners have some sort of mental health problem, and each and every one of them should receive appropriate care. This is not only the just way of doing things, but it is cost effective too. We need Government commitment to support excellent pilot programmes that are already achieving results for individuals, society, and the economy as a whole."

Centre for Mental Health joint chief executive Sean Duggan said: "The Spending Review recently included a welcome pledge to invest in diversion services in police stations and courts across the country pending a clear business case.

"We know that imprisoning people with mental health problems very often exacerbates their illness and stands in the way of rehabilitation. Yet one prisoner in 10 in England has a severe mental illness.

"The Government's promise of a 'rehabilitation revolution' in the criminal justice system will only be achievable if more people with mental health problems are diverted as quickly as possible and offered the support they need to make better lives."


For further information, please contact:
Kathy Oxtoby or Deborah Hart in the Communications Department.

Telephone: 0203 701 2544 or 0203 701 2538

 

Note to editors:

Diversion: The Business Case for Action was written by the Centre for Mental Health, Rethink and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It shows that even with intensive community supervision for up to two years, diversion from custody is still much cheaper than just a few weeks in prison. And there is growing evidence that well-designed diversion schemes can help to reduce reoffending by one third.

 

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