The problems of the Home Office and of our prisons being at bursting point have been prominently featured in the news over the past few days. The prison population has never been higher and yet there isn't space for those convicted of serious crimes. What's going on?
Bedford has a large prison located in the centre of the town. I have been there on a number of occassions to see patients, and I regularly communicate with the prison medical team. It is clear that many of those in prison have major mental health problems, and frequently end up behind bars because of the almost complete collapse of the NHS psychiatric service. Mental health has always been an easy target for cuts because it is not something which people speak out about.
Prison is no place for those with severe mental illness; proper provision of secure psychiatric care would cut the prison problem at a stroke, and allow the prison service to do its job properly.