Cyprus Mail

Need for more inmate psychiatric support

By Evie Andreou

ACTING Central Prisons Governor Eleni Vatyliotou said yesterday there was a need for proper psychiatric support for inmates, following the latest suicide attempt at the facility.

Vatyliotou, said inmates like the one who attempted to kill himself on Thursday – those with a history of psychiatric problems – should not be in prison but in specialised centres where they could get the proper treatment they needed. The prison was beginning to look like a hospital, she said. She also said that the prevention of suicides was not the prison management’s job.

With regard to the handling of inmates with psychiatric problems, Vatyliotou said that when they realise there is an inmate with such problems, they refer him to the prison’s psychiatrist but she said that the prison’s management is never informed beforehand about the health issues of new inmates. This, she said, was unacceptable.

She also said that there was a delay in the creation of a specialised psychiatric wing, which was expected to be up and running next month. There was still a need to hire the right staff as such as wing could not be run by prison guards, she said. Today there is only one psychiatrist for 600 inmates.

Vatyliotou said however that if the new wing operates correctly, it will greatly improve the problem of suicide attempts.

Concerning the inmates’ living conditions, warden Tasos Trattonicolas, said they had improved.

He said that the inmates had been separated according to the seriousness of their offences and length of sentence. However the effort could not be fully implemented due to the ongoing problem of overcrowding.

The prison is also introducing the ankle monitor as of on Monday he said, which will allow some prisoners to serve their sentences under house arrest.

Trattonicolas said that the first prison football tournament was also underway, and inmates were being allowed to watch the World Cup.

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