Criminal Justice & Health

The NHS has recently taken on the commissioning of health service provision in the criminal justice system with the aim that the standard of care provided to individuals within the criminal justice system will be equivalent to that provided to individuals in the community. There is now a significant opportunity to undertake new research in this area which could focus on any aspect of criminal justice (e.g. Police, Probation, Courts, Prisons etc.)

Northumbria Police Custody HNA

Northumbria Health Needs Assessment – An investigation into the health needs of detainees in police custody in Northumbria in 2010 and 2011.

‌An Investigation into the Prevalence of Mental Health Disorder and Patterns of Health Service Access in a Probation Population

Stage one of this study investigates the prevalence of mental (including PD), substance misuse and patterns of health service access amongst offenders under probation supervision in Lincolnshire through a series of clinical interviews with a random sample of offenders. Stage two investigates the extent to which probation staff are aware of and recording offenders mental health and substance misuse problems and the nature of any action taken to address these. Stage three consists of a series of qualitative interviews with probation staff and offenders to investigate both enablers to and barriers to health service access for offenders.

Older Publications

Austerity, the Big Society and Offender Mental Health – Editorial published in the British Medical Journal (27 October 2010)

The Importance of Mental Health Awareness Training in a European Probation Training Curriculum – This article examines the idea of mental health awareness training forming a core part of a European training curriculum for probation staff. It was published in the European Journal of Probation, 2 (2): 23-38

Trends in self-inflicted deaths in prisons in England and Wales: towards targeted interventions – A review of trends in self-inflicted deaths in the prison estate in England and Wales, published in the Journal of Aggression Conflict and Peace Research, Vol 2, No 4: 34-43

Health Needs Assessment of Children in Secure Settings – This project was commissioned by the East Midlands CSIP office. This report examines the physical and mental healthn needs of children in secure settings in the East Midlands and staff views of the current healthcare provision.  Health needs assessment of children in secure settings.

Prison Mental Health Spend in the East Midlands 2007 – 2009 – This paper examines PCT spending on prison mental health in the East Midlands. Please click the following link for the full report: Prison mental health spend in the East Midlands 2007-2009. 

Criminal Justice and Health Group Research Report (2006-8) – This paper summaries the work and achievements of this group from 2006-2008. Please click the following link for the full report: The criminal justice and health group: research report (2006/9).

Community Managed Offenders’ Access to Healthcare Services: Report of a Pilot Study –This paper is based on the findings from a pilot health needs assessment of offenders on probation. The article describes how these offenders engaged with health services

Mental Health Services and Prisoners: A Review – In 2002 Brooker et al. conducted a systematic review of primary and secondary research including grey literature which related to the mental health problems of prisoners. It aimed to “identify gaps in the current state of knowledge to inform a new mental health prison agenda” (Brooker et al, 2002: 2). The review, focuses: on prevalence of disorder; effectiveness of interventions; service development and organisation and the development of a service-user perspective and can be found here.Development of service user perspective

Brooker, Sirdifield and Gojkovic have updated this review, examining literature between 2002 and August 2006. The updated review examines literature on the epidemiology of mental health disorders in the prison population, mental health interventions for the prison population, and service delivery and organisation for prisoners with mental health disorders. This project was commissioned by the PHRN.

Mental health services and prisoners: an updated review.

A Health Needs Assessment of Offenders on Probation Caseloads in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire – A study commissioned by the Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) in the East Midlands to investigate the health needs of a sample group of offenders managed by the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Probation Areas.A health needs assessment of offenders on probation caseloads in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire – report of a pilot study.

Out of sight, Out of mind – The state of mental healthcare in prison – Prof. Charlie Brooker (University of Lincoln) and Ben Ullmann (Policy Exchange) have produced this report which examines:

  • Public attitudes towards offenders with mental illness
  • The experience of offenders with mental illness as they progress through the criminal justice system
  • The current state of prison mental healthcare
  • Economic factors surrounding the provision of mental healthcare in prisons

This report concludes with recommendations for improving mental healthcare in prisons, and will be followed by a second report in the Autumn of 2008

 Out of sight, out of mind – the state of mental healthcare in prison.

Short-Changed: Spending on Prison Mental Health Care – An examination of the differences in prison mental health care spending across the country. Includes regional breakdowns of spending on health and mental health care in prisons and incorporates data from the second national survey of prison in-reach.


Click here to read the BMJ review for this report

Click here to read the BBC News discussion about this report

New Futures Health Trainers: An Impact Assessment – In a pilot project, prisoners and offenders on probation have been trained as ‘New Futures Health Trainers’ – to signpost their peers into healthcare services, and/or undertake behaviour change work with them. This report was commissioned by the Department of Health and examines the impact of the Health Trainer role in prison and probation service settings in terms of a) the impact of training on Tutors/development of the New Futures Health Trainer course, b) the impact of training on the New Futures Health Trainers themselves, c) the organisational consequences of the role, d) the impact of the role on clinical outcomes for prisoners/offenders on probation, and e) the relationship between ‘early adopter’ sites for Health Trainers in the community, and the prison/probation equivalent.  click on the link below to read this report

New futures health trainers: an impact assessment.


International Journal of Nursing Studies – Professor Brooker has recently been the guest editor for a special mental health edition of the International Journal of Nursing Studies where his editorial analyses the recent national review of mental health nursing and it’s likely contribution to improvements in the quality of mental health care in England and Wales. In this edition, he is also the joint author of a paper that reports a systematic review of the outcome of mental health nurse intervention.

International Journal of Nursing Studies 


Evaluation of the Mental Health Awareness Workbook – This evaluation report was commissioned by Prison Health at the Department of Health. It describes the variable progress being made by the eight Care Services Improvement (CSIP) patches in the implementation of awareness training for prison officers using a ‘self-directed’ workbook approach and concludes with a series of recommendations. Evaluation_of_the_mha_workbook_Jan_9th_2007


Offender Mental Health Care Pathway – In 2005 Professor Brooker worked with Yvonne Stoddard (the CSIP lead for prison mental health in the North east and Yorkshire Region) to produce the Department of Health pathways guide to mental health and the criminal justice system. This acts as a best practice guide for individuals delivering and/or commissioning mental health services within the criminal justice system. It is currently available at:

Offender mental health care pathway


An Evaluation of the Prison In-Reach Collaborative – The Prison Mental Health In-Reach Collaborative was formed in 2002 as a way for staff to work together to share best practice and improve service delivery in prison mental health. This report was produced in 2005 and evaluates how successful the implementation of this approach was in several sites across the UK. It is available on the Forensic Mental Health R&D Website – see A paper has been submitted for publication to the International Journal of Prisoner Health on the case study element of this study.


Contact Coral Sirdifield for more information.