13th August 2014

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has published a learning lessons bulletin based on his investigations into the self-inflicted deaths of 18 to 24-year-old prisoners.

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“This report makes for depressingly familiar reading.  In our work with bereaved families we see inquest after inquest raising the same issues and despite promises of change the deaths continue.

“There have been 133 deaths of young people aged 18-24 in the last ten years, including 11 so far this year.

“These deaths are the most extreme outcome of a system that fails some of society’s most troubled and disadvantaged young people, many just out of childhood.  The young people we incarcerate are some of the most vulnerable with histories of mental ill health, drug and alcohol problems, learning difficulties, abuse, and trauma.

“Today’s report is yet more evidence of the fatal consequences of placing vulnerable young people in bleak and unsafe institutions ill-equipped to deal with their complex needs.”


Notes to editors:

  1. INQUEST published a report, Fatally Flawed, in 2012 together with the Prison Reform Trust which was the first detailed study of the experiences and treatment of young people aged 18-24 who have died in prison custody in England and Wales. The report called on the government to establish an independent review of these deaths which was finally set up in February 2014.
  2. The PPO report is available on the PPO website