From Seldom Heard to Seen and Heard – Prison Update

As part of our From Seldom Heard to Seen and Heard campaign, which focussed on people affected by dementia from seldom heard groups, we looked at people with dementia in prisons. In September we wrote a letter to Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, Lucy Frazer QC asking for a commitment to supporting and working towards the implementation of a national strategy for older people in prisons. This letter was jointly signed by eight organisations that we have been working with over the years on supporting people with dementia in prisons. Unfortunately, we did not receive a response.

This ties in well with an inquiry launched in July by the Justice Committee into the ageing prison population. The Committee’s inquiry examined the challenges older prisoners face and the services they need, including the adequacy of accommodation, purposeful activity, provision of health and social care, resettlement and whether a national strategy for the treatment of older prisoners is needed.

In October, her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons submitted written evidence stating “the need for a clear strategy at national level in relation to social care, recognising that meeting the needs of particular cohorts of prisoners as the prison population changes requires consideration across the prison estate and across government. In our social care thematic, we recommended that “[t]he Secretary of State for Justice should lead coordination of cross-governmental work to develop a strategy for delivering social care in prisons in England and Wales. We have also called for a strategy on older prisoners more broadly. Such a strategy could take into account factors such as their needs, how best to ensure continuity of care, prison population management and the physical infrastructure, including whether high levels of physical security are necessary for infirm prisoners”.

Due to the general election, this inquiry has been closed and the Justice Committee has ceased to exist. If an inquiry on the ageing prison population is held in the future, the Committee may refer to the evidence already gathered as part of this inquiry. The NDAA would be happy to be involved again.

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