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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

January 5, 2006: Prison Suicides Fall, Says Howard League

The Howard League for Penal Reform have just published figures indicating that 78 people committed suicide in prisons in England and Wales during 2005. This is 17 fewer lives lost than in 2004, and represents the lowest number of prison suicides since 2001. The youngest person to die was a 16 year old boy at Lancaster Farms Young Offender Institute, the oldest a 64 year old man. The average age at which people took their own lives was 32.  Nearly one third of those who killed themselves were subject to formal suicide and self-harm monitoring processes

Figures released by the Howard League showed that during 2005:

  • 12 of those who took their own lives were under 21 years of age, including two children (one aged 16 year and one aged 17 year old)
  • The 16 prisons which experienced more than one suicide during the year accounted for 60% of all suicides
  • The proportion of suicides by black and minority ethnic prisoners has risen from one in ten of all prison suicides in the last five years to over one in five during 2005. 14% of those who killed themselves were classified as black, 5% as Asian and 3% as mixed race.
  • Four women took their own lives, compared to 13 in 2004
  • Over half of those who took their own lives were on remand (that is, had either not been convicted or had been convicted but not yet sentenced)
  • In addition, prison staff successfully resuscitated 131 people following an incident of serious self harm

The sharp reduction in the number of women taking their own lives follows an easing of the pressure on the female estate during the course of the year and is a major factor in the fall in the overall number of prison suicides.

The prison authorities have endeavoured to make positive changes to the way in which they to care for those considered to be at risk of suicide or self-harm. For example, by attempting to reduce the overall levels of distress as well as providing more personal attention to individual prisoners, as opposed to peering through a cell window at 15 minute intervals.

Despite these changes, the pressure in overcrowded local prisons, where over 80% of suicides occurred, remains high. Howard League director Frances Crook commented:

“Whilst this long-overdue fall in the number of prison suicides is welcome, it should not obscure the fact that 78 men, women and children still died during the course of the year. What the figures really show is how low things had sunk in recent years for the authorities to be hailing the fact that “only” 78 people took their own lives during 2005. The Home Office should not lull itself into a false sense of security by believing that they have cracked the problem of suicide in prison. There is clearly a long way still to go”.