Comment

Prisons must develop dementia strategy, says ombudsman

Prisons and probation ombudsman Nigel Newcomen says staff need help to manage rapidly growing older population.

As Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, I independently investigate all deaths in prison, immigration detention and probation-approved premises as well as complaints from prisoners, immigration detainees and those under probation supervision.

Sadly, demand for my services has never been greater, with a record 304 deaths to investigate in 2015/16, 42% more than the number 5 years ago.

I have had some difficulty explaining the recent sharp increases in suicide and homicide in prison, but the 172 deaths from natural causes last year are easier to explain.

Mostly, they reflect a rapidly ageing prison population due to longer sentences and more late-in-life prosecutions for historic sex offences.

As a result, the number of prisoners over the age of 60 has tripled and is now the fastest-growing segment of the prison population. With age comes age-related conditions and, sadly, associated deaths.

Fatal incident investigations

In recent years, I

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