Mental Health Reform Welcomes High Level Task Force to Consider the Mental Health and Addiction Challenges of Those Who Come into Contact with the Criminal Justice Sector

Mental Health Reform welcomes the Final Report and recommendations of the High Level Task Force to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of those who come into contact with the criminal justice sector.

The report was published today by Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD and the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD.

The Taskforce was established in 2021 to meet the Government’s commitment to ensure the critical mental health needs of people in prison are met, addiction treatments are provided and appropriate primary care supports are available on release.

Overall, the Taskforce has put forward 61 recommendations which emphasise the shared responsibility of a number of Government Departments and agencies to deliver on meeting the needs of those with mental health and addiction challenges who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

Commenting on the report and recommendations, Róisín Clarke, Interim CEO, Mental Health Reform said: 

“We know that the State is currently failing many in the criminal justice system with mental health difficulties. Too many people with addictions issues and mental health difficulties are held for long periods in unsuitable conditions in prison. Urgent measures are needed to prevent vulnerable individuals from being needlessly trapped in the criminal justice system. 

The High Level Task Force report provides targeted solutions to reduce the number of people entering prisons and ensure that people with complex mental health needs can access timely and appropriate care.

The strong emphasis on mental health addiction and awareness training for Gardaí will be key to diverting people with mental health difficulties from the criminal justice system towards supportive environments. We also welcome the recommendations for cross-agency collaboration between An Garda Síochána and the HSE.

In particular, we welcome that the report reflects and promotes the recommendations in Sharing the Vision, Ireland’s mental health policy. Every person with mental health difficulties coming into contact with the forensic system should have access to comprehensive tiered mental health support that is recovery-orientated.

While the report’s recommendations are very welcome, we are concerned that the proposals, particularly those that will clearly require further funding, have not been costed. The High Level Task Force report represents a significant milestone in taking a more progressive and human-rights based approach to forensic mental health services. Both funding and cross-departmental collaboration will be critical to ensuring the Taskforce meets its goals.”

The Final Report of the High Level Task Force to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of those who come into contact with the criminal justice sector is available here.   


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