To investigate to what extent mental health treatment needs are met in white and black and minority ethnic (BME) prisoners.
Treatment needs of a random sample of male (n = 197) and female (n = 171) prisoners were assessed with standardised instruments. Interventions provided were confirmed through face-to-face interviews and case note review.
BME prisoners comprised 44% of participants. Treatment for depression, personality disorder and alcohol abuse was more often needed by White than BME prisoners. Needs were more frequently met in White than BME prisoners (48.5% vs 38.2%; p < 0.05), largely due to the delivery of psychological treatments.
BME prisoners had fewer of their mental health needs met.