Rethink Mental Illness responds to appalling conditions at HMP Eastwood Park

03 February 2023

An inspection of women's prison HMP Eastwood Park at the end of last year has found that women experiencing mental illness were being kept in appalling conditions. 

Responding to the inspection report, Jonathan Munro, Associate Director for Criminal Justice and Care Navigation at Rethink Mental Illness, said:

“We are appalled to learn of the horrendous conditions that women have been enduring at HMP Eastwood Park. Many of the women on the particular unit inspectors have raised concerns over live with mental health conditions, which can quickly spiral in the absence of a therapeutic environment and support from trained and qualified staff, and it is outrageous that there appears to have been an absence of clinical supervision. The description of the disgusting, unacceptable conditions within the prison, where many were kept in isolation, leave us in no doubt that their trauma and distress will have been compounded, significantly increasing their risk of suicide and self-harm. This is a shocking example of the system failing in its basic duty to keep people safe and well.

“Prison is not an appropriate environment for someone experiencing acute symptoms of mental illness. It's difficult to comprehend that someone who is so unwell would have to wait over 400 days to be transferred to secure care for the essential treatment they need. We need change, and we fully support the recommendation of the Draft Mental Health Bill, which suggests a 28-day window as the longest wait anyone should have to endure. We hope that legislation can be swiftly implemented, and that this report serves as a wake-up call to remind the government and authorities that such inhumane conditions have no place in our criminal justice system.”