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Concerns raised over prisoners with extreme mental health conditions at HMP Peterborough

In its latest annual report (men’s, women’s), the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at HMP Peterborough expresses concern about the number of prisoners showing signs of acute mental illness. If these individuals had been diverted into appropriate healthcare provision under the Mental Health Act, their treatment is likely to have been considerably more humane than a prison can provide.

The Peterborough IMB notes that:

  • Prison staff have no mental health training, and although support is provided by on-site mental health professionals, treatment options that would be available in mental health facilities are lacking.
  • Healthcare provision has suffered due to poor communication with prisoners.
  • Some prisoners went days, or in some cases weeks, without their prescribed medication due to processing delays at reception.

However, the Board is pleased to report that:

  • The prison provides a structured and fair regime, and prisoners have been observed being treated with respect, care, and compassion.
  • Strong support was seen being given to prisoners who intentionally injure themselves.
  • Violence is assertively managed by prison staff. 

IMB Peterborough Vice-Chair, Steve Boast, said:

We are particularly concerned about the number of prisoners who have been sent to HMP Peterborough while showing symptoms of severe mental illness. We have asked that the Prisons’ Minister work with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure those with serious mental health issues in the criminal justice system are directed to a more appropriate pathway, and that action is taken to prevent prisons being deemed a place of safety. The prison management and staff, however, have done their absolute best to improve outcomes for these prisoners, despite the challenges presented to them. We particularly commend the front-line officers who deal with these individuals in extreme crisis on a day-to-day basis.”