The Bradley Report presents a comprehensive plan to reduce reoffending and improve public health by ending the revolving door to custody for mentally ill and learning disabled offenders. The Prison Reform Trust calls on the government to implement Lord Bradley's recommendations without delay.
Lord Bradley’s review was published on 30 April 2009 and ministers committed to publishing an action plan by the end of October.
The review recognised that the majority of offenders with lower-level mental health disorders are not dangerous and could be better treated outside the prison system without any risk to the public.
The Prison Reform Trust has called on the government to implement without delay the following Bradley recommendations:
· Establish mental health and criminal justice teams - to ensure the right mental health and learning disability support and services are available for people in contact with the criminal justice system.
· Reduce the time taken to produce psychiatric reports.
The review calls for a maximum wait of 14 days for court reports on mental health. It had heard evidence that delays in producing mental health reports for the courts are leading to people being jailed unnecessarily.
· Restrict the use of ASBOs for people with mental health problems.
Mental illness or learning disabilities can make it harder for many people to comply with Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs). The review refers to Home Office evidence that 60 per cent of those issued with an ASBO had a mitigating factor such as mental distress, addiction or learning difficulties. It calls for appropriate checks to be made before ASBOs and Penalty Offices are issued, to avoid ‘accelerating vulnerable people into the criminal justice system, rather than to appropriate services, if they are not complied with’.
· Provide alternatives to prison.
The review calls for adequate community alternatives to prison for vulnerable offenders where appropriate. It heard evidence that 2,000 prison places per year could be saved if a proportion of eligible, short-term prisoners who committed offences while suffering mental health problems were given community sentences.
· Improve care for people leaving prison.
The review calls for help to be given to petty offenders with mental health problems or learning disabilities to ensure they are helped to stay out of trouble. The review calls for a new national strategy for rehabilitation services to be developed for this group.
The Prison Reform Trust has also called on the government to give greater support to assertive outreach to people with mental health problems who come from a black and minority ethnic background. Currently, people from BME communities are much more likely than white people to access mental health services via the criminal justice system.