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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 1, 2008: Prison Suicides Rise

The Ministry of Justice has announced that there were 92 apparent self-inflicted deaths among prisoners in England and Wales in 2007.

Of the 92 self-inflicted deaths in prisons in England and Wales in 2007:

  • 84  were male prisoners (compared with 64 in 2006)
  • 8 were female prisoners  (compared with 3 in 2006)
  • 7 were young offenders (i.e. under 21) 7  (compared with 2  in 2006)
  • 1 was a juveniles in Prison Service custody  (compared with 0 in 2006)
  • 41 were remand prisoners (compared with 22 in 2006)
    4 were serving Indeterminate Public Protection sentences  (compared with 2 in 2006)
  • 18 were lifers (non-IPP)  (compared with 6 in 2006)
  • 23 were foreign National Prisoners  (compared with 6 in 2006)

Since 1 April 2004, all deaths in prison custody have been investigated by Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Stephen Shaw. The Ministry has confirmed that these and all other deaths in prison custody are investigated independently by the Ombudsman, and strenuous efforts are made to learn lessons.

There were 67 self-inflicted deaths in 2006 following two years of the numbers falling. There were 95 such deaths in 2004, and 78 in 2005. In addition, there were 95 in 2004, 94 in 2003 and 95 in 2002.

Prisoner 'self-inflicted deaths' include all deaths where it appears that a prisoner has acted specifically to take their own life. Approximately 20% of these deaths will not receive a suicide or open verdict at inquest.

The prison population hit an all-time peak during 2007 and contains a high proportion of very vulnerable individuals. There are around 130,000 prisoners going through the prison system each year and on any one day prisons keep safe over 1,500 people assessed as at particular risk. Over 100 prisoners were resuscitated during 2007 after serious self-harm incidents. Many hundreds more have been helped by the care and timely interventions of staff.

The provisional rate of self-inflicted deaths this year is 114.0 per 100,000 prisoners, compared to 86.5 in 2006, 102.6 in 2005 and 127.2 in 2004.

Of self-inflicted deaths for 2007, 90  occurred in public prisons, and two deaths occurred in contracted prisons, which hold approximately 11% of the prisoner population.

The annual numbers and rates of self-inflicted deaths in prisons vary considerably. The most reliable guide to trends is the three-year average annual rate which is currently about 101.15 per 100,000 of population (lower compared to 104.90 for the three years ending December 2006).

In December Lord Bradley, a former Home Office Minister of State, was asked to carry out a review of how more offenders with severe mental health problems can be diverted away from prison and into more appropriate facilities. Lord Bradley is expected to report his findings in summer 2008 to the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice.

Prisons Minister Maria Eagle said:

'The Government remains determined to prevent deaths in custody. I sincerely regret this year's increase in self-inflicted deaths after the significant decreases of recent years. Our prisons contain large numbers of very vulnerable people, and caring for them is challenging and vital work. I know that all those involved remain totally committed, and I commend them for that.'

'We have asked Lord Bradley to look at how more offenders with severe mental health problems can be diverted away from prison into more appropriate facilities. I have just received the report of the independent review of the Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody and will decide early next year on next steps.'

The Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody brings together healthcare and criminal justice professionals including police, prisons, the Department of Health and the main inspection and investigative agencies. The work of the Forum includes deaths of people in prison, police stations, immigration detention and secure mental hospitals. The Forum will also focus on those who have been released from custody and are under the supervision of the National Probation Service.

The Forum has been set up in response to recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights  in their 2004 report on Deaths in Custody.

Prison Service Director General Phil Wheatley also stated that:

'Staff have continued to make strenuous efforts in this vital area of work in dealing with a challenging and vulnerable prison population. The rate of self-inflicted deaths had reduced year on year over the previous four years. It is critical that we remain focused in this key area.'