26 January 2017

INQUEST response to publication of latest Ministry of Justice 'Safety in Custody' figures

Today the Ministry of Justice released it's latest Safety in Custody statistics. A link to these can be found here.

The key findings are extremely disturbing:

  • Deaths up 38% overall, self-inflicted up 32%
  • Self harm incidents up 23%
  • Assault incidents up 31%
  • Prisoner on prisoner assaults up 28%
  • Assaults on staff up 40%

Note: Safety in Custody Statistics Bulletin, England and Wales, Deaths in prison custody to December 2016, Assaults and Self-Harm to September 2016

Deborah Coles, director at INQUEST said:

"This unacceptable death toll reflects the grim reality of overcrowded and dehumanising prisons and the failure to protect those in their care. INQUEST’s work with families shows first-hand the traumatic human cost these deaths inflict on generations of bereaved family members.

Inquest after inquest highlights the same systemic failures. Countless investigations, prison watchdog reports and reviews recommend solutions to protect the health and safety of staff and prisoners that are systematically  ignored.

This broken system cannot deal with societal problems of mental and physical ill health, addictions, poverty and housing.  A radical reduction in the prison population, investment in alternatives and a change in the nature and culture of prison so they are places of last resort and rehabilitation will better serve victims, communities and prisoners.

If the Government fails to act, the scandalous death toll will continue."


Notes to editors:

For further information or for an interview with Deborah Coles or one of our families, please contact Laura Smith on 07811 218 621.

Today's Guardian article on Jake Foxall's death
Deborah Coles comments in Guardian yesterday in advance of today's announcement

INQUEST provides specialist advice on deaths in custody or detention or involving state failures in England and Wales. This includes a death in prison, in police custody or following police contact, in immigration detention or psychiatric care. INQUEST's policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and we work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths.

Please refer to INQUEST the organisation in all capital letters in order to distinguish it from the legal hearing.