Government announces plan to scrap sentences of less than six months

Statement / comment
15 January 2019

Professor Pamela Taylor, Chair of the Forensic Faculty said: "The Royal College of Psychiatrists welcomes government plans to scrap short prison sentences.

"Many people serving them have a mental disorder, so scrapping these sentences would immediately reduce the number of vulnerable people in our prisons.

"But, the government must couple these plans with strengthening the probation service. Under a previous Ministry of Justice, community supervision of low level offenders was commissioned out to non-professionals – a failure government now acknowledges.

"Return to supervision by professional probation officers at this level is essential to prevent repeat offending and progression to more serious crimes.

"When mental disorder is part of the problem, psychiatrists can then work in formal partnership with probation officers, using Mental Health Treatment Requirements, to improve health, reduce risk of suicide and make society safer."