INQUEST believes that deaths in prison cannot be looked at separately from examining harsh and impoverished prison conditions, the use of segregation, poor medical care and prison overcrowding – all of which have implications for people's mental and physical health. Until there is a fundamental review of the overuse of prison for the most vulnerable and marginalised, prison deaths will continue.
The growing prison population has resulted in the rise in self-inflicted deaths in prison (over 800 out of more than 1,900 deaths in prison in England and Wales in the years 2002-2012). Suicide prevention and prison overcrowding are incompatible and this dismal record should be a matter of national shame and prompt urgent reform.
INQUEST sits on the Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody and works with the Prisons and Probations Ombudsman to raise thematic issues arising from our casework to ensure lessons are learnt from deaths in prison.
‘Although it is fair to say I was given adequate opportunity to express my views the final verdict was not the one I had hoped for. We were all devastated to think that [our brother] had died in such tragic circumstances and no one had been made accountable.’
– Family of man who died while detained under the Mental Health Act