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The mental health of offenders and ex-offenders

Start date: 05 April 2017
End date: 31 May 2017

Key facts

  • Over 100 people killed themselves in prisons in England and Wales in 2016, the highest death toll in a calendar year since records began.
  • In all age groups, suicide rates are higher in recently released prisoners than in the general population.
  • 33 per cent of male and 51 per cent of female prisoners suffer from depression.
  • Almost two thirds of male prisoners have a diagnosed personality disorder.

Our investigation

Around one in four adults have a criminal record.

75 per cent of employers admit to discriminating against a candidate with a criminal record and 10 per cent say they would never recruit an ex-offender. 

The London Assembly Health Committee is conducting an investigation into the mental health needs of offenders and ex-offenders, as part of a wider investigation examining what the Mayor can do to support better mental health for all Londoners.

Having poor mental health does not in itself make you more likely to offend.  People with mental health problems are much more likely to be a victim of crime than a perpetrator. However, poorly treated mental health is an overwhelming factor in the offender population.

According to the Prison Reform Trust, 90 per cent of prisoners have some kind of diagnosable mental health problem and 70 per cent have two or more such problems. If these problems are not treated, they are likely to persist on release.

Get involved

The Health committee will be looking at these key questions:

  1. What are the main mental health challenges faced by prisoners and ex-offenders in London?
  2. What measures are in place to prevent people with mental health needs entering the criminal justice system and how are they supported through prison, probation and release? Are these measures sufficient?
  3. Which groups within the offender population are specifically at-risk of developing mental health problems?
  4. What steps could mental health service providers take to make their services more accessible for ex-offenders?
  5. How effective are programmes that aim to support continuity of mental health support when people have returned to their communities following prison?
  6. How do issues such as housing and unemployment affect the mental wellbeing of offenders and ex-offenders?
  7. What examples of good practice are there in London and further afield?
  8. What can the Mayor and the London Assembly do to support better mental health for this group?

We would like to hear from organisations and individuals with experience of these issues. You can choose to remain anonymous if you wish. Please email with your views by 31 May 2017.