British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

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December 2009

A cross-government action plan to improve the health of offenders in prison and in the community was launched today by Care Services Minister Phil Hope.

Speaking at the 2009 Health and Criminal Justice conference in York, he announced the first comprehensive approach across government to address health inequalities in this vulnerable population.

Individuals from socially excluded sections of the community are over-represented in the offender population. The plan draws together recommendations by Lord Bradley’s review of people with mental health and learning disabilities in the criminal justice system and the views of stakeholders. It will help to protect the public, reduce health inequalities and cut levels of reoffending.

The plan will:

  • ensure there are liaison and diversion services which assess individuals’ health needs in all courts over the next five years;
  • train staff across the criminal justice system to identify where health issues may need to be addressed and share information across the different elements of the system that come into contact with that individual;
  • ensure that offenders have access to the same levels of healthcare as everyone else; and
  • improve continuity of care by developing care pathways that enhance health and social care provision and contribute to the delivery of justice.

Phil Hope said:

“We all know what’s at stake. Mental health problems – whether drug misuse, learning disabilities or a personality disorder – can lock people into a cycle of disadvantage and criminality. Improving health and support is a way of tackling this negative cycle.

“By launching this plan in response to Lord Bradley’s report, we are bringing key players together for the first time in a more consistent and connected vision for improving health in the criminal justice system.

“In many cases, the criminal justice system is our best chance of providing help for those who may otherwise drift off the radar.”

Justice Minister Claire Ward said:

“This delivery plan will ensure the criminal justice system deals appropriately with some of the most vulnerable people in the community. It strengthens co-ordination between health services, police and the courts, to ensure the right balance is struck between treatment and punishment. Early intervention to identify and treat mental health issues is vital for the individuals concerned as well as for the benefit of wider society.”

David Behan, Chair of the Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board said:

“The Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board provides a great opportunity to bring the relevant government departments and agencies together to make some positive changes to the lives of offenders.”

Keith Pearson, recently appointed chair of the National Advisory Group said:

“As Chair of the newly established National Advisory Group, I am committed to moving this agenda forward and ensuring implementation of the Health and Criminal Justice Programme.

“The need for stronger leadership and more effective partnerships to improve the health of offenders, wherever they may be in the criminal justice system, is evident. Engagement of the NHS and wider organisations at regional and local level, will be vital to the successful implementation of this work programme.”

Notes to editors

  1. For further information please contact the DH press office on 020 7210 5221.
  2. Improving Health, Supporting Justice can be downloaded from the DH website at
  3. Lord Bradley’s review of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system was published on 30 April. The Government accepted the direction of travel set out by Lord Bradley, and committed to developing a national delivery plan incorporating a full response to the report’s recommendations.
  4. The cross-departmental Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board was established in response to the Bradley Review and is chaired by David Behan – Director General for Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships Directorate, Department of Health.
  5. A National Advisory Group has also been established to help ensure wider involvement from interested organisations. Keith Pearson was recently appointed as chair.

Download the report: pdf file CJPB Health Plan


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November 2009

The Equal Opportunities Committee Report
Female Offenders in Criminal Justice System report to the Scottish Parliament
received written evidence from BACP

BBC Law in action Programme

Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health


Crown Prosecution Service

Howard League for Penal Reform