POA News

152 | 29.06.2017


The POA support the claims of the NAO that the Government does not know how many people in prison suffer from some form of mental illness and that the Service is under pressure.

The NAO claim that HMPPS does not know how much it is spending on mental health in prisons or whether it is achieving its objectives.

According to the report by the National Audit Office. Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service (HMPPS), NHS England and Public Health England have set ambitious objectives for providing mental health services but, do not collect enough or good enough data to understand whether they are meeting them.

The POA claim that the Service provided to deal with mental health within the prison population is poor. The POA has also raised the issue of budget cuts since 2009 to date, resulting in staff numbers in public prisons being reduced by 30%.

In 2016, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) found that 70% of prisoners who had committed suicide between 2012 and 2014 had mental health needs.
• Self-harm rose by 73% between 2012 and 2016.
• In 2016 there were 40,161 incidents of self-harm in prisons, the equivalent of one incident for every two prisoners.
• While in 2016 there were 120 self-inflicted deaths in prison, almost twice the number in 2012, and the highest year on record.

The POA has raised the same concerns as the PPO with HMPPS in addition to the concerns raised by local Coroners following the inquests into deaths in custody.



According to the POA these concerns have been dismissed by HMPPS.

When asked about staff training to deal with prisoner’s mental health Leaders of the POA said;

“This is virtually non-existent”.

When pressed on this issue and on the assurances from the previous Secretary of State for Justice that she would recruit 2000 advanced Prison Officers with training to deal with the problem of mental health in prisons.

Leaders of the POA said;

“HMPPS has ignored this pledge and built in training modules to deal with other issues once again putting the problems of mental health on the back burner”.

In response to the statement from Amyas Morse, Head of the National Audit Office, on their report,

“The POA said, the Government and HMPPS has failed the most vulnerable in society and the prison system. The reform agenda was not fit for purpose and prisons had to get back to basics”.




For further information contact:

POA Press Office                                                                                    020 8803 0255 Option 7