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England and Wales : rise in prisoners moved to mental health hospitals

More prisoners are being diagnosed with mental health problems requiring hospital treatment, official figures obtained by the Guardian show.

The number of male prisoners being transferred to hospital under the 1983 Mental Health Act grew by more than 20% between 2011 and 2014 in England and Wales, said the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in response to a freedom of information request.

Campaigners have called for more people with mental health problems to be treated in hospital rather than sent to prison, and some cautiously welcomed the figures.

However, there was concern that they also show the use of hospital orders – court orders that allow defendants to be sent for medical care instead of receiving a prison sentence – has declined by more than 25% since 2011 for men and remains at a similar level among women.

Levels of suicides and assaults in prisons are at record highs, and incidents of self-harm have increased sharply.

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