There is still limited understanding of the current rates of mental health needs of women in UK prisons, according researchers from Skills for Justice and the University of Leeds.
This is despite progressive research into the types of mental health issues that impact on women who offend, and the links between offending and mental health.
To highlight this issue, Skills for Justice recently conducted a literature review, entitled ‘Patients or Prisoners – Implications of Overlooking Mental Health Needs of Female Offenders’, which has been included in a new issue of the British Journal of Community Justice.
This issue of the journal focuses on women in the criminal justice system, and the article by Skills for Justice examines the work that has been carried out in recent years to support female offenders. It also examines whether more could be done to support this demographic.
Taking the government-commissioned Coniston report from 2007 as a starting point, it notes that few of the recommendations from that report have been implemented. This is despite research providing a better understanding of mental health requirements and a recently developed Female Offender Strategy (Ministry of Justice, 2018a).
Jon Parry is Principal Research Manager at Skills for Justice. He said: “The evidence shows that prison is an unsuitable environment in which to establish a rehabilitation system that will support women prisoners with a variety of complex needs.”
“Numerous studies have been published on the relationship between mental health and offending in the last decade – with women prisoners being found five times more likely to have a mental health issue than women in the general population. However, very few recommendations are being adopted.”
The article concludes that there is a compelling case for re-evaluating how to deal with women in the criminal justice system who struggle with mental health issues. It also highlights the need for a relevant model to be developed that considers the current prevalence of mental health issues in female prisoners.
You can read the full article here: https://www.mmuperu.co.uk/bjcj/articles/patients-or-prisoners-implications-of-overlooking-mental-health-needs-of-fe
The latest issue from the BJCJ containing all the articles related to women and criminal justice is available here: https://www.mmuperu.co.uk/bjcj/issues/the-british-journal-of-community-justice-volume-15-issue-1