A vulnerable mental patient has been jailed at her own request because she believes it is her only chance of getting the treatment she needs.

India Jackson-Mack has complex psychological problems which have led her to carry craft knife blades which she uses to self-harm but which have led to 19 different arrests.

She will spend Christmas and much of next year in Eastwood Park women’s prison near Bristol after the failure of repeated attempts to help her in the community.

Jackson-Mack, aged 29, was sent to a specialist unit in Birmingham in September this year but lost her placement when she suffered a mental health crisis and was sectioned for 28 days on October 2.

She was then moved to the Cedars Unit of Wonford Hospital in Exeter, where she was discharged homeless onto the streets on October 20, still within the time period of her Mental Health Act Order.

She lived rough until November 6, when she rang a mental health worker to say she was in crisis and in danger of self-harming. Police were called and arrested her with three Stanley knife blades outside the Rockfish restaurant on Exeter Quay.

A judge at Exeter Crown Court told her that he was jailing her ‘with a heavy heart’ after being told that she feels safe in Eastwood Park and has the opportunity of doing group work for her mental health.

Jackson-Mack, aged 29, whose last address was a friend’s house in Honiton, admitted possession of a blade in a public place and was jailed for a year and three months by Recorder Mr Patrick Mason.

The sentence includes ten months for the nine previous offences which resulted in her receiving a three-year community order in September. The case had been adjourned for a psychiatric report which failed to offer any alternative disposal.

The earlier offences, committed between April 2022 and July 2023, included two occasions when she was arrested with blades on Exmouth seafront and one where she was found with a knife up her sleeve at Plymouth railway station.

He told her: “You have suffered tragedy and very difficult circumstances in your life and I have seen what the courts have tried to do for you in the past. Everyone in court is very sympathetic and keen to help and acknowledges your difficulties.

“However, you have repeatedly, again and again, been out in public with knives or blades. You always tell the police about them and you have not harmed anyone else. The law is relatively severe on people who carry knives, with a mandatory sentence.

“In ordinary circumstances, the court would consider it unjust to impose it because of your personal circumstances but I am told that you wish to be in custody because there is the potential for you to get help.

“If you were put back into the community, you feel it is more probable that you will commit further offences. I hope the sentence I pass will mean that you are able to avail yourself of the opportunity seek help.

“I pass this sentence with a heavy heart. I am very concerned to read about you and hope very much that life gets better for you.”

Chris Cuddihee, defending, said Jackson-Mack wanted to be sent to prison for long enough for her to take part in group work to address her mental health issues, which include psychosis and PTSD. She is still on a waiting list for an adult autism assessment.

He said a detailed care programme was put in place in September but it failed after she lost her place at a specialist hostel because she was sectioned. She was then released homeless and re-offending became almost inevitable.

He said: “She feels safe at Eastwood Park. The way she puts it is that she doesn’t have access to blades there. She does not want to engage with the community mental health team but in prison there is group  mental health work that she wants to do and believes will help her.”

Mr Cuddihee said the hope is that a release plan which may include support from a rehabilitative charity could be put in place for when she leaves jail.