In prison

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Most people who enter the criminal justice system don’t end up in prison, even if they are convicted of an offence.

Hafal believes that no-one with a serious mental illness should be held in prison as this is an inappropriate environment. However, statistics show that a large percentage of prisoners have a mental health problem, and many have a serious mental illness.

On entering prison, prisoners spend a short period being assessed on an induction before being allocated their accommodation. Induction usually lasts 1-2 weeks and may include:

• A health assessment that identifies areas of risk.
• Suicide prevention/self-harm management.
• Assessment for mental health problems including serious mental illness and personality disorder.
• Detoxification/maintenance regimes for specific drugs.
• Immunisation/vaccination.

Remember that there is no guarantee that you will go to a prison in Wales – you may end up in England. There are currently no women’s prisons in Wales.

  • Hafal’s advice: It is vital that you let the Prison Service know that you have a mental illness and, if you are used to taking medication, what that medication is. If you are feeling suicidal, you must let a prison officer know so that they can support you.If you are feeling very low you can ask to see someone from the listener scheme (a service available in most prisons). This involves talking to a fellow prisoner who has been trained to listen to people in prison who are experiencing distress or who may be particularly vulnerable.




During your time in custody there should be:
• Further assessment and screening on transfer between prisons.
• Advice offered on maintaining good health, including mental health.
• Discharge and resettlement planning.
• Advice on maintaining contact with your family and friends.
• Advice on being released on licence (being on licence means that you are still serving a prison sentence but you can live in the community instead of being in prison).

Prison Mental Health In-reach Teams (MHIRTs) work within the prison setting to provide assessment, care and treatment to those experiencing serious mental illness. They link in with services outside of prison. MHIRTs should assist with:
• G.P. registration.
• Referral to specialist treatment should you need this.

If you are very unwell in prison you may need to be transferred to a hospital, medium secure unit or a special hospital where you will serve your sentence. It is possible to go back and forth between prison and hospital.

The Probation Service work with people in prisons who are serving their sentences. For example they may be asked to write a report about you for the Parole Board to help them decide whether or not it is safe to release you and, if you are released, what arrangements need to be in place to stop you reoffending and to keep you and others safe. If you are serving more than 12 months imprisonment you will have an offender manager who has overall responsibility for you during your time within the criminal justice system.

If you have concerns about your healthcare or accommodation, or any other part of your life, it is important that you let your offender manager know so that they can assist you with resettlement.