Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    Mental health plan for WA prisons

    18/08/2005 12:00 AM

    The State Government will move to improve facilities and services significantly for prisoners with serious mental health problems.

    Health Minister Jim McGinty said the Government would also look at establishing a new specialised facility for prisoners diagnosed with Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder (DSPD).

    “Prisoners are five to seven times more likely to have a mental illness than other people but unfortunately our prison system is not always best placed to treat them,” Mr McGinty said.

    “We need to improve mental health services significantly for prisoners, which will in turn help improve public safety.”

    The Minister today outlined a broad plan to improve forensic mental health in Western Australia, based on a recent study trip to the United Kingdom to look at mental health facilities and prisons.

    Mr McGinty’s report, tabled in State Parliament, identifies strategies to manage prisoners with mental health problems, especially offenders with dangerous and severe personality disorder.

    The strategies include:
    • increased forensic hospital facilities for prisoners with serious mental illness;
    • a specialised forensic mental health facility for prisoners with DSPD;
    • improvements to the legal framework for managing the release of prisoners with DSPD;
    • more mental health services provided within prisons such as treatment and rehabilitation programs; and
    • increased capacity to undertake mental health assessments of prisoners at different stages of the justice system.
    “In some of our prisons, 25 per cent of the population have a mental illness and about half will require hospitalisation in a forensic mental health facility,” the Minister said.

    “Mental health services for prisoners have been neglected for too long and I intend to use the findings from my recent visit to the United Kingdom to improve these critical services in WA.”

    Mr McGinty said he would work closely with the Minister for Justice to draw up a blueprint for mental health services in prisons.

    Minister's office: 9220 5000