Little is known internationally about return to prison from in-patient psychiatric services, including: circumstances leading to return, aftercare services and subsequent patient outcomes.
To examine and describe: (a) circumstances leading to return to prison from medium secure services; (b) available aftercare and early outcomes of returned persons; and (c) implications for policy development.
Prospective cohort design with all patients (n = 96) returned to prisons from 33 National Health Service (NHS) medium secure services over a 6-month period in England and Wales. Follow-up was conducted for 1 year post-remittal, across 60 prisons.
Less than 20% of patients with legal entitlement to section 117 aftercare under the Mental Health Act 1983 were receiving care managed/delivered via the care programme approach. Subsequent pathways included: inter-prison transfer (30%), use of the Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork process (49%), referral to secure services (21%) and community release (30%). Less than half of community releases were referred to a community mental health team.
Findings suggest that persons returned to prison are a vulnerable group of patients, many of whom require intervention (e.g. enhanced monitoring, admission to a healthcare wing, readmission to secure mental health services) on return to prison in the absence of targeted aftercare services. More robust guidance for discharge and aftercare planning procedures for persons remitted to prison should be developed to ensure that the benefits of in-patient admission are maintained and that individuals’ legal rights to ongoing aftercare are upheld.