“The deprivation of liberty in prisons does not mean the deprivation of the care to which all people are entitled,” the Bishop for Prisons has said.
Bishop Richard Moth’s comments come in response to The Health and Social Care Select Committee’s new report, which suggests that criminals are being sentenced to ‘worsened health’ when they are sent to prison.
The report explores the state of health and care in prisons and identifies violence, self-harm, overcrowding, staff shortages and the increasing availability and use of psychoactive substances in prisons as having a severe negative impact upon the health, mental health, care and safety of prisoners across England and Wales.
Bishop Moth, who is also the Bishop for Mental Health, told The Catholic Universe: “I welcome this timely report into the state of health and care in our prisons. I particularly welcome the recognition of the positive contribution chaplains make to the mental health and wellbeing of prisoners.
“While chaplaincy does not provide an alternative to professional mental health services, it does provide support to prisoners facing mental health concerns and can therefore reduce the risk of self-harm and suicide within prison. As such, chaplains often play a significant part in the mental health provision in prison.
“The report also states that there should be ‘sufficient resourcing of community mental health services so that people are not sent to prison because of a lack of appropriate community mental health care’. This aligns with a recommendation in our own recently published report, A Journey of Hope, for the Government to ‘provide sufficient funding for alternatives to custody for those with severe mental health conditions’.
“It is vital that the recommendations of this Inquiry are put into action to ensure that the deprivation of liberty in prisons does not mean the deprivation of the care to which all people are entitled.”
Picture: File photo dated 07/11/03 of a prison cell. A report from the Health and Social Care Select Committee suggests that criminals are being sentenced to ‘worsened health’ when they are sent to prison. (Paul Faith/PA).