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
"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
McLoughlin or Deborah Hart in the
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.