Improving health is an essential part of reducing re-offending. Offenders have complex health needs and poor health outcomes and it is important this is recognised in both commissioning and providing health and social care services. This is true across the whole range of health services, but particular attention has to be paid by commissioners of mental health, learning disabilities and addictions services.

The majority of offenders enter prison with a range of health and social problems, including poor mental health, drug and alcohol misuse and low levels of literacy and numeracy. The health needs of young offenders also need to be recognised and addressed by commissioners of health services.

Although there are no prisons in Reading, a number of ex-offenders as well as those supervised by the probation service are residents of Reading, many of whom will have significant health needs. The probation service supervises both those being released from prison on parole as well as those serving community sentences.

Evidence indicates that the health of offenders both in and out of custody is significantly worse than that of the non-offending population and currently many offenders are not receiving an equivalence of service in relation to their health needs.

A needs assessment undertaken for the Thames Valley surveyed all offenders in the region. The findings of this report are detailed in the web link.