The Criminal Justice System is failing people with mental ill health

Woman Working Illegally

source: INQUEST
published: 17 November 2021

“The criminal justice system is failing people with a mental illness. At every stage, their needs are being missed and they face unacceptable delays in getting support. Not enough progress has been made since our last joint inspection 12 years ago to put right these critical shortfalls.”

– Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell, speaking on behalf of all six inspectorates.

A major inspection conducted jointly by six inspectorate bodies has found that the criminal justice system is failing people with mental ill health in England and Wales. INQUEST has responded calling for transformative change in a system that has proved itself incapable of reform.

Inspectors investigated the work carried out across policing, liaison and diversion services, prosecution and court, probation, and prisons and resettlement services in six regions of England and Wales.

Their report details the experiences of individuals with mental ill health at different phases of their journey through the system, from their first contact with the police to release from prison. The conclusions are deeply concerning and reflective of long term issues.

Inspectors identified a myriad of failings and stated that too little progress had been made since the last review in 2009. In particular, they highlighted the poor exchange of information between and within each element of the criminal justice system; the lack of training of staff on mental health issues; and the lack of timely, accessible, and adequate mental health support.

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