The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent increases in the number of non-natural deaths in prisons; and what plans they have to improve mental health support for those in prison who are at risk of suicide. [HL7466]
Lord Faulks: Every death in custody is a tragedy. We are taking forward a wide range of work to reduce violence and the use of drugs, including new psychoactive substances, in prisons and to address the levels of suicide and self-harm.
All deaths in prison custody are subject to a police investigation, an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO), and a Coroner’s inquest. We are committed to learning from these investigations to inform the approach of both health and custodial services in identifying and supporting prisoners at risk.
All prisons are required to have procedures in place to identify, manage and support people who are at risk of harming themselves. The Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT) process is a prisoner-centred, flexible care planning system for prisoners identified as being at risk of suicide or self-harm. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has recently reviewed compliance with the ACCT process and is working to implement the recommendations, which include improvements to multi-disciplinary working between prison and clinical mental health staff. NHS England is implementing new prison clinical information systems which will improve the availability of clinical information to staff in prisons from the early
days in custody.
In addition, the government has initiated a cross departmental Mental Health Taskforce, tasked with developing integrated mental health service pathways in the least restrictive settings and aimed at providing support and intervention to those in need of help at the earliest opportunity.