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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 6, 2009: Howard League On Prison Deaths

The Howard League for Penal Reform have released new figures which revealed that 1,789 men, women and children have died whilst in the care of the Prison Service in England and Wales in the last ten years. The charity drew attention to the deaths of 905 people by their own hand. These figures emerge during a year when the prison population reached a record high of 83,810.

The Howard League figures show that in the years 1998 to 2008, 75 women have killed themselves. Women are far more likely to commit suicide in prison than in the community, with the number of women killing themselves in prison peaking at 14 in 2004. Since 1998, a total of 132 young people aged from 15 to 21 have taken their own lives in prison.

In addition to the ten year figures, the Howard League revealed that a further 151 people died in the care of the Prison Service in 2008. Of these, 61 were suicides and 3 were murders, with the remaining from natural causes. Of the 61 suicides in 2008:

  • Seven were under-21. Some of the young people to have killed themselves this year were as young as 18 years old. The youngest had just turned 18. Alone in his single cell, he hanged himself in the early hours of the morning at Chelmsford prison in September. He had not been convicted of an offence but was on remand for theft.
  • 45% were unsentenced, either on remand or awaiting sentence after conviction. This is despite the fact that prisoners on remand make up just 16% of the prison population.
  • All but 1 were male. The one woman to die at her own hands in prison in 2008 was 32 years old and on remand for common assault. She hanged herself in the middle of a January afternoon at Styal prison, despite being on suicide watch.
  • Only 12 of the 61 prisoners were being monitored on suicide watch as part of the Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT) Plan.
  • Six prisons had three or more suicides. Chelmsford tops the table with four suicides. Altcourse, Lincoln, High Down, Wormwood Scrubs and Winchester prisons all had 3 suicides each.
  • The vast majority of self-inflicted deaths, 54 of the 61, were caused by hanging. Another two prisoners died by taking a drugs overdose.

Howard League Director Frances Crook commented:

“We congratulate the Prison Service on the dramatic fall in suicides this year against the 92 in 2007. Nevertheless, each death in custody is a tragedy and reflects a system that is on its knees with record overcrowding. Staff and resources are strained to the limit coping with an ever-swelling prison population rife with mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction and histories of neglect and abuse."

“The number of prison deaths in the last 10 years is a shaming indictment of our penal system. Judges and magistrates cannot justify sending ever-increasing numbers of people into our already bulging jails when effective community sentences are readily available. With the present level of overcrowding in our prisons, people are literally condemned to an early death, despite the best efforts of over-stretched prison staff."

“The 1,789 deaths in prison since 1998 tell a story of neglect and violence, with homicides, suicides and deaths by natural causes all at alarmingly high levels. Each one of these deaths should sit uncomfortably on the consciences of the prison authorities.”