Accusations of prisoner restraint reinforce need for mental health inquiry

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The PSA is repeating its call for a nationwide inquiry into the mental health system after a highly critical report into the treatment of mentally ill prisoners.

The Chief Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, detailed cases where inmates had been restrained to prevent self-harm and claimed they were a breach of New Zealand laws and international conventions.

The PSA is heartened at Corrections CEO Ray Smith’s admission that mistakes were made.

"We note the calls for a formal inquiry into how Corrections handles mentally ill prisoners," PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

"We would support this, but believe it should form part of a wider investigation into our mental health system.

"The vast majority of prisoners now come into the system with substance abuse issues, and more than half have a diagnosed mental illness.

"This means some prisoners have highly complex needs, and an inquiry would figure out the best way to deal with that.

"Health minister Jonathan Coleman has repeatedly rejected our requests for an inquiry but we would urge him to reconsider.

"Our mental health system is in crisis, and only a full-scale assessment can fix the problems at every level."