Bad girls?: women, mental health and crime

Document type
Revolving Doors Agency
Date of publication
1 January 2004
Mental health services, Criminal Justice Services
Social welfare
Material type

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This report confirms recent evidence that mental health problems are at epidemic levels, particularly in prison. And women with mental health problems who encounter the criminal justice system are not receiving the help that they need. This research surveyed 1,400 women in Holloway prison serving their first prison sentence, between October 2000 and March 2001. In addition, it surveyed 870 women who were arrested between October 1997 and March 2002 and who were considered to be exhibiting signs of having a mental health problem or vulnerability by staff working in police stations. There are high levels of mental health need among this group. 55% of women in prison for the first time displayed symptoms of a mental health problem and 63% of women surveyed in police stations were considered to have poor mental health. Together, this new primary data constructs a picture of the problems faced by women with mental health problems who commit crime. The research examines a variety of issues including child care, medication, self-harm and drug usage.