Monday 31st March 2014, a letter appeared in the Evening Standard from a member of the National Association of Probation Officers that advised: 70 per cent of prisoners suffer from mental health disorders and mental health services in prison and on-release are inadequate.
My reply printed on 2nd April went thus – ‘Probation officer Karen Kiil raises the issue of the numbers of prisoners who suffer from mental disorders. No one ever asks the mentally ill whether they prefer to be in prison or sectioned on an acute psychiatric ward. Every mental patient I have asked who has experienced both environments always plumps for prison for the following reasons: better food and accommodation; a wider range of activities; more respectful interaction with the staff; a regimen they can understand and, on release, better follow-up care.’
Subsequent to printing I can confirm that a retired psychiatric nurse concurred with my points and those who have experienced prison like the fact that in your cell you are provided with a TV and radio and with tea and coffee making facilities and that the mattresses in prison offer better support than NHS mattresses. One patient commented ‘they (the hospital management) don’t want to make the food in hospital taste nice, for if they did, the patients won’t want to leave.’