28 March 2017


responds to the launch of two publications - a learning lessons bulletin on self-inflicted deaths among female prisoners by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) and the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP) working paper ‘Preventing the deaths of women in prison’ – both published today.

Deborah Coles, director of INQUEST said:

“INQUEST is exasperated by the scandalous lack of action despite the evidence presented to successive governments. Baroness Corston laid the blue print for change 10 years ago and since then, a further 80 women have died In England and Wales. Behind the statistics of these preventable deaths are human stories. The majority of women in prison have common life experiences: domestic violence, abuse, addiction, homelessness and/or mental ill health. These are the very women who should not be imprisoned in the first place; what they need are women-centred community services, not a prison sentence. We must stop using prison as the default response to women’s poverty and multiple disadvantages and invest in community services. Ultimately, the responsibility for taking action rests with central Government. Their failure to act will condemn yet more women to die in prisons ill equipped and ill resources to deal with their complex needs”.



For further information, please contact: Gill Goodby and Lucy McKay on [email protected] or 020 7263 1111

The PPO Learning Lesson’s bulletin on deaths of women in custody can be found here.

The Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP) working paper is available here.

The Corston Report can be found here.

 INQUEST publications:

• In Spring 2017 INQUEST will be publishing a briefing on women in prison.

• In 2008 INQUEST published a book on women’s deaths in prison, Dying on the Inside, which provides a comprehensive examination of INQUEST’s casework on the 115 women’s deaths in prison between 1990 – 2007 and further describes the case for gender appropriate prison alternatives.

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 to distinguish it from the legal hearing.