The Bradley Report was published on 30 April 2009. Commissioned in 2007 by Jack Straw, the report is a comprehensive review of people with mental health problems and learning difficulties in the Criminal Justice System.

The report focuses on four key areas; early intervention, the court process, prison and community sentences and resettlement, and change through partnership.

In total Lord Bradley makes more than 82 recommendations for the improvement of the Criminal Justice System. The Government recently published its response to the report, and has agreed to set up a Health and Criminal Justice National Programme Board which will bring together all of the relevant departments covering health, social care and criminal justice for children and adults. The priority for the newly formed board will be to consider Lord Bradley’s recommendations and develop a national delivery plan by October 2009.

The Government will also form a National Advisory Group, comprising of interested parties including drugs and mental health awareness groups and charities. This will provide an independent source of evidence-based advice to ministers, and a new National Programme Board will oversee the development of Criminal Justice Mental Health teams who will liaise with local community services and enable earlier identification and assessment, along with improved information sharing, resulting in better informed charging, prosecution and sentencing decisions.

The Government aims to identify a clear national strategic direction for the implementation of the recommendations within the next six months. Once established, the more transparent and clearly defined structure proposed by the report should enable the Criminal Justice System to operate more effectively. In the longer term, the impact may be that more offenders can be treated in the community, ensuring that those individuals who must be in prison can receive targeted, effective care while they are there.

The full report can be accessed via the Department of Health website here.