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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, 2010: Deaths In Prison Custody

The Ministry of Justice has announced today that there were 60 apparently self-inflicted deaths among prisoners in England and Wales in 2009.

Prisoner ‘self-inflicted deaths’ include all deaths where it appears that a prisoner has acted specifically to take their own life. Approximately 80% of these deaths receive a suicide or open verdict at inquest.

Claire Ward, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice said:

‘Each and every death in custody is a personal tragedy for all those involved. The Government is fully committed to reducing deaths in custody. The continued reduction in the rate of self-inflicted deaths in our prisons is welcome news. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all those who work in our prisons who care for the most vulnerable prisoners.’

On any one day, prisons keep safe over 1,500 people assessed as being at particular risk of suicide or self-harm. These and many more prisoners are helped and cared for by prison staff, third sector partners and other prisoners – trusted ‘Listeners’ trained by the Samaritans to provide confidential emotional support to others.

The numbers of self-inflicted deaths in prison custody can vary considerably. Rises and falls from one year to the next are not good indicators of underlying trends. The most reliable guide to trends is the three-year average annual rate. This currently stands at 86 deaths per 100,000 prisoners and has decreased year-on-year since 2004 when it was 130 deaths per 100,000 prisoners.

Phil Wheatley, Director General of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) said:

‘It is vital that we learn from all deaths so that we can prevent future ones. I am pleased that we have held down the number of self-inflicted deaths given the increased population pressures we have faced this year. I also welcome the fact that there are now fewer deaths in the early days of custody. This is due to better drug detoxification programmes, mental health services and the sheer hard work of prison staff in caring for those most at risk of suicide. Continuing to reduce the number of self-inflicted deaths in prison custody is important core business for the National Offender Management Service in 2010.’

Since 1 April 2004, all deaths in prison custody have been investigated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, Stephen Shaw. The Ombudsman’s investigators and family liaison officers carry out independent investigations which also address any issues raised by the bereaved family. Stephen Shaw commented:

‘Each death in custody is a tragedy and my office carries out independent investigations to find out what happened. Despite the pressures on the prison system, it is very welcome that the rate of self-inflicted deaths continues its downward trend. I know that the Prison Service takes the safety of prisoners very seriously. I am confident that it will continue to act on my recommendations in a joint endeavour to reduce the rate of avoidable deaths even further.’