Bradley review - government action plan

On 17 November 2009, the government launched Improving Health, Supporting Justice: the national delivery plan of the health and criminal justice programme board(pdf). This report is in part a formal response to Lord Bradley’s review of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system.
The government’s main commitment is to improve mental health support for people in contact with the criminal justice system. The delivery plan introduces an objective:

To develop care pathways that enhance health and social care provision and contribute to the delivery of justice. Pathways will focus on assessment and intervention at as early a stage as possible, and will support improved risk management and continuity of care.

The plan provides further detail about ensuring that the pathways will be suited to the person’s needs. The aim is to provide effective mental health care for the person, whether in health settings or in prison custody.

In particular, Improving Health, Supporting Justice pledges to:

  • Strengthen the links between criminal justice agencies and local learning disability partnership boards
  • Reduce the delays in producing psychiatric reports for courts
  • Promote greater use of community order requirements with health and social care aspects
  • Improve the sharing of information between agencies from health, social services and criminal justice
  • Reduce the number of people with learning disabilities and mental health problems who are held in prison unnecessarily

Prison Reform Trust welcomes the development of liaison and diversion services that are central to the delivery plan. They would be responsible for ensuring continuity in an individuals’ mental health care when they are in contact with the criminal justice system and for the appropriate sharing of information between all agencies that are responsible for caring for an offender with mental health problems and learning disabilities. 
PRT has a role in monitoring the implementation of this delivery plan as a member of an independent advisory group.
PRT director Juliet Lyon said:

This action plan charts the way for many vulnerable people out of the criminal justice maze into health and social care.

For too long we have locked up our most vulnerable people in our most bleak institutions. Why waste time and public money building new prisons when it is clear that our jails are full of people in urgent need of proper mental health and social care?  The shadow hanging over these reforms is that words won’t be matched by action because of departmental turf wars or the money won’t be found because it’s being sunk into building more prisons.

If we can end the buck-passing between the NHS and the justice system and hold them to account for implementing this plan, then the pay-off is that we can improve public health and cut crime.

You can read the full report (pdf) here