Care Not Custody

January 2012

In June 2008, the WI passed a resolution calling for an end to the inappropriate detention of people with mental health problems. 24 senior representatives of organisations who work with people with mental health needs have signed a letter urging the State to keep its Care Not Custody promise: to avoid using prison healthcare as a catch-all for people who would be better cared for outside the criminal justice system.

Published in The Guardian on 30 March 2011, the letter welcomed the commitment of health secretary, Andrew Lansley, and the justice secretary, Ken Clarke, to divert people with mental health needs away from the justice system where possible and to improve treatment and support in the community (£5m scheme to divert mentally ill offenders from prison, 28 March).

Three years since the Care Not Custody campaign was launched, both secretaries of state have agreed to work together and commit further resources to the full roll-out of a national liaison and diversion scheme by 2014, as proposed by the Bradley report. We plan to work in partnership to make sure that the government keeps its ‘care not custody’ promise.

ICVA is fully supportive of this campaign and calls on all custody visitors to continue to monitor and highlight cases to their police authority to keep up the pressure.