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Prison suicide rates at highest levels ever, statistics show

Self-inflicted death is 8.6 times more likely in prison custody than among the general population, according to the Ministry of Justice.

Prison suicides in England and Wales are at the highest rate since records began, figures from the Ministry of Justice have revealed.

Last year there were 119 self-inflicted deaths, 29 more than the previous year and the highest number since 1978.

The Safety in Custody statistics bulletin showed self-inflicted death is 8.6 times more likely in prison custody than among the general population. The statistics also showed a record high of 354 deaths in custody overall, 37,784 self-harm incidents and 25,049 assault incidents.

Investment

Justice secretary Elizabeth Truss said that 100 million would be invested annually to boost the frontline by 2,500 officers.

Since becoming Justice Secretary, I have been clear that violence, self-harm and deaths in our prisons are too high,' she said.

These are long-standing issues

Prison suicides in England and Wales are at the highest rate since records began, figures from the Ministry of Justice have revealed.

prison suicides
Suicides in prison are at a ten-year high
Picture: Alamy

Last year there were 119 self-inflicted deaths, 29 more than the previous year and the highest number since 1978.

The Safety in Custody statistics bulletin showed self-inflicted death is 8.6 times more likely in prison custody than among the general population. The statistics also showed a record high of 354 deaths in custody overall, 37,784 self-harm incidents and 25,049 assault incidents.

Investment

Justice secretary Elizabeth Truss said that £100 million would be invested annually to ‘boost the frontline by 2,500 officers’.

‘Since becoming Justice Secretary, I have been clear that violence, self-harm and deaths in our prisons are too high,' she said.

‘These are long-standing issues that will not be resolved in weeks or months but our wholescale reforms will lay the groundwork to transform our prisons, reduce reoffending and make our communities safer.’

Ten-year high

Ann Norman, RCN professional lead for criminal justice and learning disabilities, said: ‘A fast growing problem, suicide in prison is now at a ten-year high. Current conditions are far from the safe, healthy environment that prisoners need and these are having a hugely detrimental impact on their mental health.

‘Morale is particularly low among prison healthcare teams, with staff shortages driving pressures through the roof. Prisons need a workforce with the right skills and abilities to manage this critical problem.’

Pamela Taylor, a forensic psychiatrist and chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ forensic faculty, warned that mental health teams are ‘struggling to help prisoners in desperate need’.


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