PEERS SUPPORT NEED FOR LEARNING DISABLED OFFENDERS TO BE ASSESSED BY PSYCHIATRISTS BEFORE SENTENCING
A survey of members of the House of Lords has shown that 80 percent of those questioned believe that specialist psychiatrists should assess offenders with learning disabilities on their admission to prison, to determine if their needs would be better met with specialist treatment in a specialist facility.
Conducted by ComRes on behalf of Care Principles, a specialist provider of services for adults with learning disabilities, personality disorders, autistic spectrum disorders and mental health needs, the survey also revealed that more than three quarters of Peers who responded thought the Health and Social Care Bill should protect the needs of prisoners with learning disabilities.
Dr. Claire Royston, medical director of Care Principles has already advocated the need for prisoners with learning disabilities to receive psychiatric assessment to determine the best treatment and facility for them in her submission to the Health and Social Care Bill Committee. Speaking about the ComRes survey results she commented:
“There are an estimated 5,800 prisoners with a learning disability and I’m confident that most of these have not been assessed to determine if specialist treatment to address both learning disability and offending behaviour would be more appropriate. Research suggests a tailor-made personalised and specialist care is the most effective treatment for their rehabilitation and it is encouraging to see so many Peers supporting this view.”
The results also highlighted the need for a specialist commissioning body to provide services for those with a learning disability and other complex needs, with 68 percent of participants agreeing this was required to ensure that the needs of this vulnerable group of adults are met. In contrast, only 12 percent of Peers believed that commissioning for this group of patients should be done at local level, as proposed by the government in the Health and Social Care Bill.
This supports Dr Royston’s view also made in her submission to the Health and Social Care Select Committee in which she suggested the establishment of a specialist NHS commissioning body with participating psychiatric advisors..
Dr. Royston continued: “A specialist commissioning body would not only deliver significant therapeutic benefits to the individual but would also benefit society as a whole. This is because effective treatment reduces the likelihood of reoffending and the burden of harm – and associated multiple costs – to any future victims. In addition, a specialist NHS commissioning body would bring together those responsible for commissioning services with those tasked with service delivery.
“With the proposal of such reforms to the provision of care, it is imperative that this vulnerable group are not forgotten and that they receive the care and treatment they require.”
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About Care Principles
Care Principles is part of the Huntercombe Group, the specialist services division of Four Seasons Health Care. It provides specialist assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for adults with challenging behaviour associated with learning disabilities, personality disorders and autistic spectrum disorders.
Care Principles was founded in 1997 by a dedicated group of professionals with extensive specialist experience of providing services for people with learning disabilities in both the NHS and the independent health care sector. The organisation now has over 450 beds and employs more than 1500 staff across the Group, providing assessment, treatment, care and rehabilitation for people with a range of challenging behaviour and complex needs.
Media enquiries for Care Principles: PIELLE Consulting on 020 7963 7417 – Jonquil Simons (07860 466959 out of hours) or Yvette Hodgson on 0207 963 7417 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Methodology note: ComRes surveyed 100 Members of the House of Lords on the ComRes Peers panel between 16th May and 27th June 2011 by self-completion postal questionnaire and online. Data was weighted to reflect the exact composition of the House of Lords. Full tables available at www.comres.co.uk