30th April 2014

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has published two ‘Learning from PPO Investigations’ reports on self-inflicted deaths in prison.  He called for prisons to ‘improve how they risk assess, monitor and care for prisoners to help prevent suicides’.

The reports follow a sharp rise in the number of self-inflicted deaths in prison. Since 1 November 2013 the number of self-inflicted deaths has risen to double the number over the same period a year ago.

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“INQUEST's work with bereaved families reveals the human cost behind the statistics. Far too many deaths are preventable with the same systemic failings revealed with depressing regularity. There is currently no effective mechanism for ensuring that when failures are identified, action is taken across the entire system. As a result the prison service is not being held to account and deaths keep happening.

“However self-inflicted deaths cannot be examined in isolation from criminal justice policies that imprison too many vulnerable people in prisons ill-resourced and ill-equipped to keep them safe.

“We remain seriously concerned by the sharp rise in the number of self-inflicted deaths. It appears the risk of prisoners dying is increasing rather than decreasing.  This current crisis needs urgent public scrutiny.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Several top musicians have published a letter in the Guardianyesterday expressing concern over the rise in self-inflicted deaths
  2. INQUEST raised serious concerns over the recent rise in self-inflicted deathsearlier in April.
  3. The PPO reports are available on their website