25 January 2018

The Ministry of Justice today released the latest statistics on safety, deaths and self harm in custody. The report shows that levels of self harm continue to escalate and self-inflicted deaths reduce to levels seen before 2016, which was the highest number of self-inflicted deaths in prison. 

Deborah Coles, director of INQUEST said: 

"These statistics present a shocking but sadly familiar snapshot of the reality of life in prison. While we welcome a reduction in deaths since the record-breaking highs of 2016, the number has simply returned to a level consistent with patterns over recent decades. Deaths in prison remain a morally indefensible systemic issue across the prison service. The rate of self harm continues to soar. Now is not the time for complacency.

The current approach is not working and recommendations from prison inspectors, investigations and inquests into prison deaths are not being listened to. The new justice secretary, David Gauke, cannot simply continue to pursue the failed policy directions of the past. The solution to systematically unsafe prisons is to dramatically reduce the prison population, invest in community alternatives and divert those with health and social care needs away from places of serious harm. The safety and wellbeing of prisoners, caring staff and the wider public must not be neglected."

INQUEST publishes live statistics on deaths in prison, available here. These statistics are reported by calendar year, from now to 1990.