• March 22, 2015


There has been a shocking admission that half of the inmates of the Isle of Man Prison are suffering from mental health problems the Minister of Home Affairs, Juan Watterson MHK, provided the information in a written answer in Tynwald.


March 2015

Question 20


The Hon. Member for Onchan (Mr Hall) to ask the Minister for Home Affairs –

How many prisoners suffer from mental health issues and illnesses broken down by the types of condition(s) from which they suffer; what resources are available to them in prison; and whether prison is appropriate for such persons?

The number of people in the Isle of Man prison and the proportion of them with mental health issues will vary from day to day.

Of the 86 people currently in custody in the Isle of Man prison on 11 March 2015:

12 have recognised Personality Disorders
2 have psychiatric conditions (schizophrenia and bi-polar)
29 are known to suffer from depression.

Specialist mental health service services are available as follows:

Community Mental Health Practitioner attends for two full days per week.
Psychiatrist for half a day every week.
Psychologist for half a day every other week.

Additionally, the psychiatrist from the Drug and Alcohol team visits for half a day once a fortnight and a counsellor from Motiv8, who deal with all addiction matters, one day a week.

If at the point of sentence the court is provided with reports recommending that treatment within secure mental health facilities is required, a Hospital Order may be made and the prisoner will be transferred.”

In August 2008 the Celtic League queried mental health provision at the IOM Prison. In October 2008 the (then) Minister for Home Affairs (Adrian Earnshaw) told us:

“Responsibility for the healthcare of prisoners was transferred from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to the Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS) in April 2008, and it is the Department of Health & Social Services who commission services to prisoners based on a health needs assessment. The shared aim of the DHA and DHSS is to provide prisoners with access to the same quality and range of clinical services appropriate for their needs as are accessible to members of the public.

Acknowledging the need to improve mental health services for prisoners, two additional mental health nurse posts were created in January 2008, and the posts filled. One of the nurses specialises in drug and alcohol work and works closely with the Island Drug and Alcohol team (DAT). Additionally, Dr Riaz Haq from the DAT visits the prison weekly. The other nurse has a background of secure mental health services and is experienced in working with mentally disordered offenders. All prisoners can have a basic mental health assessment on reception to the prison.

The healthcare team are able to refer prisoners to the community mental health in reach team who visit as required. The facilities at Jurby are more in keeping with a modern and professional healthcare service and are much appreciated by the visiting and permanent healthcare professionals.

I am confident that we are steadily developing a healthcare service that specifically meets the unique needs of the Isle of Man Prison and which will, in time, positively impact on the public health of the island.”

On its last visit to the Island (12-23 May 2003) the Council of Europe body responsible for inspecting detention facilities the CPT whilst broadly welcoming the changes in place following the commissioning of the new Manx prison did articulate some concerns over mental health welfare issues saying:

“Consideration should be given to strengthening the psychological services provided to inmates, in particular psychotherapy.”

See link (para. 177):


A level of 50% of inmates with mental health issues is extraordinarily high.

J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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