Invitation to join the new ADASS Care and Justice Network

The Care Act 2014 “clarified” local authority responsibilities for meeting the social care needs of prisoners while they are held in either prisons or approved premises. Although the Act used the language of clarification, for the vast majority of local authorities this meant an entirely new set of responsibilities and the need to build new working relationships with prisons, health care providers, NOMS, specialist NHS England commissioners and voluntary sector organisations working directly with prisoners. 

Prisoners enjoy most of the rights of other citizens with a few exceptions and most local authorities have put in place their arrangements for responding to referrals, undertaking assessments and providing care and support services but the recent ADASS survey of activity in Quarter 1 of 2015-16 suggests that progress across the country is not uniform.

In addition to this there is still much to do to develop common understanding and practice about what concepts like information and advice, prevention and wellbeing mean in the prison context.

Local authorities do not have lead responsibility for safeguarding in prisons but can we make a contribution in helping our colleagues working in custody services both to keep vulnerable prisoners safe and to respond appropriately when issues are identified?

England now has record numbers of prisoners (over 80,000) and many of these are living with a learning disability, autistic spectrum condition or mental health. Is there more that social care can do not only to help provide a safe and constructive experience of prison but also to ensure that for those who are most vulnerable there are viable alternatives to prosecution and incarceration by contributing to liaison and diversion services?

As the contingent of older prisoners continues to grow NOMS is beginning to think about whether there is a need for specialist units within prisons for those who are most frail and vulnerable. If there are to be such units, how many are needed, what is the model of care and who commissions the care and support? What should integration between health, care and custody look like?

ADASS has a distinct contribution to make shaping the response to these and other issues and to guide its thinking and to ensure that it is present in the debates and discussions as they are happening we are proposing to establish a network of social care colleagues working at the interface of care and justice.

Our first meeting will be on Thursday 19 November 10.00-12.30 at Local Government House, Smith Square, London and there will be a dial in option for those who cannot travel to join us.

If you think you may be interested in join the ADASS Care & Justice Network please contact me at James.Bullion@essex.gov.uk

James Bullion

ADASS Lead Director for Care & Justice