Prisoner access to secure mental health treatment

Ms Rowena Davis1

1Office Of The Inspector Of Custodial Services WA, Perth, Australia

This presentation is about a review our Office conducted because we were concerned by the circumstances in which two women with acute mental health needs were moved from Bandyup Women’s Prison to the state’s only secure forensic mental health facility, the Frankland Centre. We aimed to examine the safety of transporting prisoners to the Frankland Centre.

To get a full picture, we chose to look at how people were managed before the transfer and after their return. In doing so, we discovered a larger problem, that many people do not make it to a clinical inpatient setting at all. They remain in prison even though they have been identified as needing clinical care in a specialised hospital. The review expanded to examine this issue in more detail.

We found the State is not meeting the mental health needs of prisoners. The majority of referrals to the Frankland Centre for clinical mental health treatment do not result in a placement. Even after multiple referrals a third of people never access the centre. This is largely because the number of beds at the Frankland Centre has been inadequate for over a decade.

We also encountered significant issues with records, which made it difficult to identify who was accessing the Frankland centre and where they were coming from.  These issues, the findings of our review, and our recommendations will be discussed in this presentation.


The Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services oversees the way people in custody are managed. We conduct regular inspections and reviews of prisons, work camps, court custody centres and the detention facility holding young people. We are independent.  We report directly to West Australia’s Parliament and our reports are also available to the public.

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