Mental health and deaths in prison examined

22 February 2017

The Joint Committee on Human Rights holds its first evidence session as part of its inquiry into mental health and deaths in prisons.


Wednesday 22 February 2017, Committee Room 1, Palace of Westminster

At 3.15pm

  • Juliet Lyon, Chair, Independent Advisory Panel
  • Lord Harris of Haringey, former chair for the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody from 2009 until 2015
  • Frances Crook, Chief Executive, the Howard League for Penal Reform
  • Rt Hon the Baroness Corston, author of the Corston Report (March 2007)

Inquiry focus

The inquiry seeks to establish whether a human rights based approach can lead to better prevention of deaths in prison of people with mental health conditions. The Committee examines why progress has not been made, despite the myriad recommendations made by the reports of other investigations and inquiries; and it seeks to identify the most important recommendations in these reports which have not been implemented and which ought to be.

Focus of the session

The session looks into the issues relating to deaths (including self-inflicting deaths) of people in prison with mental health conditions; the human rights issues affecting vulnerable prisoners with mental health conditions; health and wellbeing provision for offenders with mental health conditions; the appropriateness of prison for offenders with mental health conditions and/or learning difficulties.

Chair's comment

Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the Joint Committee, said:

"Human rights law imposes a positive duty on the state to protect the life of those in its care, including in prisons. The rigorous application of a human rights framework may reveal that there is more that can be done to prevent non-natural deaths in prison of people with mental health conditions. JCHR seeks to ensure that this inquiry will make a distinctive, human rights-based contribution to solving the problem.

Our Rapporteur on Mental Health and Human Rights, Amanda Solloway MP, has undertaken a series of informal visits and meetings related to human rights and mental health in prisons, and it is clear from her findings that urgent action is needed.

Building on the many inquiries and reports into deaths in custody, including the recent Harris Review of Self-inflicted Deaths in Custody of 18-24 year olds (PDF 2.4MB) and the EHRC Report and ongoing Progress Reviews on Preventing Deaths in Detention of Adults with Mental Health Conditions, our inquiry will aim to ensure that recommendations aimed at avoiding such deaths are no longer ignored."

Further information

Image: PA

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