In 2013, Revolving Doors Agency, working with Public Health England and the Probation Chiefs Association, published Balancing Act- A briefing for Directors of Public Health: Addressing health inequalities among people in contact with the criminal justice system. This new resource is therefore intended to support a broad range of stakeholders at local, regional, and national level to understand and meet the health and social care needs of people in contact with the criminal justice system, and through this engagement, reduce offending and improve community safety.
The report notes that the prevalence of health issues of those who come into contact with the criminal justice system is high. They face diverse and sometimes unique health problems, often related to mental health, drug addiction and lower levels of prosperity generally. Social inequality is a contributing factor to greater health inequalities for this group than the general population.
The importance of the improvement of this service provision is highlighted in this report- improving the health of this group would have knock-on effects on the rest of the populations’ health and this group has a higher proportion of vulnerable persons. The increase in prosperity levels in terms of health and other social issues would have a correspondingly positive effect on both offending and reoffending rates.
The report notes a number of factors which inhibit the provision of effective health services to this section of the population:
- Complex health and social care needs;
- Poorly designed service and challenging social circumstances;
- Low levels of help seeking;
- Fragmentation between community and prison service provision;
- Stigma about their status as ‘prisoners’ may lead to negative attitudes from professionals act as a barrier to access or engagement with healthcare;
- Transitioning to adult heath care services can be detrimental to the continuation of treatment;
- Fragmented data that is not shared between stakeholders.
The report also provides a number of potential systemic solutions to these issues:
Building a better understanding of the issues by the involvement of all stakeholders in the provision of information and planning for future treatment;
- Engaging with communities as a means of reaching out to those who are underserved by current means, using already existing networks;
- Commissioning and delivering programmes in partnership with other stakeholders;
- The progress made must be monitored and adjusted accordingly when necessary.
To read the full report click here