LONDON — The Metropolitan Police is refusing to release figures showing how many inmates with psychiatric illness have been admitted to jails in England and Wales in recent years, saying they would not be useful to a review of prison practices.
The Met’s mental health division has told the Office of National Statistics that it will not release data on inmates with conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but has said it does not consider them “worried about safety.”
In an internal report, the Met said it would only release the numbers of inmates who have been in custody for a year or more without being considered “worrying” or “worsening.”
“We consider it as a form of information that may not be available to the public, particularly for research purposes, as it may be difficult to identify the precise impact of these individuals in terms of their risk of reoffending,” the Met’s report said.
“The data is not meant to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of different correctional interventions.”
While the number of mentally ill prisoners has been steadily rising over the past decade, the number with schizophrenia and depression disorders has been falling, the report said, citing a 2014 report by the Institute for Justice.
However, the numbers are still relatively high, as there have been fewer than 1,000 admissions to mental health services since 2011.
Earlier this year, the British government agreed to provide mental health professionals and staff with a grant of up to £50,000 ($80,000) a year, to help improve their care.
It also agreed to create a National Mental Health Advisory Committee, chaired by a psychiatrist and an ophthalmologist, to improve access to mental healthcare services.
But the government has yet to set out how it plans to spend the grant, or how it intends to fund the research.
British jails have seen a significant rise in the number and types of people being held in their custody.
Last year, there were 6,814 people in British jails, compared with 3,932 in 2012.
Over the same period, there was a rise in people held in police custody.