A person takes their life every five days in prisons, new figures show
Ministry of Justice study shows historic number of inmate suicides
APERSON takes their life every five days in the troubled jails of England and Wales, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Justice.
The figures show that the number of deaths of inmates remains at historically high levels and that self-harm across all prisons is at its highest in seven years.
In the 12 months to June, there were 61,153 incidents of self-harm in prisons, equivalent to 167 incidents per day.
Statistics in the children’s estate showed that the rate of self-harm was as high as 1,643 incidents per 1,000 children aged 15 to 17.
The total number of people who died in a year was 282: an 8 per cent decrease from last year, but amounting to around five deaths every week.
Of these deaths, 70 were self-inflicted whereas 174 were classed as “natural causes.”
According to casework and monitoring by the charity Inquest, many of these deaths were “premature and far from ’natural’.”
Twenty-six deaths were confirmed as Covid-19 related.
In March, prisons across England and Wales were placed in immediate lockdown. Despite widespread calls to release significant numbers of people to protect their mental and physical health, less than 300 people were temporarily released.
Instead severe regime restrictions were introduced, including a 23-hour-a-day lockdown.
Inquest director Deborah Coles said: “Across the prison estate, men, women and children are languishing in conditions amounting to solitary confinement.
“The detrimental impact to physical and mental health cannot be underestimated.
“Extreme restrictions are being justified as the only way to contain the pandemic in prisons. This is not the case. To reduce ongoing harm we need to dramatically reduce the prison population.
“This is more important than ever to save lives. Existing resources must be reallocated so that no-one is released into destitution or poverty or a lack of health and welfare support.”
Prison Officers Association national chairman Mark Fairhurst said the decline of figures from last year “highlights the commendable work prison officers on the front lines have carried out.
“We must build on this success by ensuring that our prisons are adequately resourced, staff-prisoner relationships continue to improve and we cater for the mental health of all who live and work in our prisons.”
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