INQUEST's evidence-based report  Stolen Lives and Missed Opportunities: The deaths of young adults and children in prison documents the deaths of 65 young people and children in prison between 2011 and 2014.

In the four years covered, INQUEST reveals an average of more than one young death each month.

The report argues for a fundamental rethink about the use of prison and calls for a political boldness to implement evidence-based change. The vulnerabilities of young prisoners have been well documented by countless research, investigations and inquest findings, yet they continue to be sent to unsafe environments, with scarce resources and staff untrained to deal with their needs.

Based on INQUEST's specialist casework with the families of the prisoners who died, the report found that:

  • 83% were classified as “self-inflicted”.
  • The highest number of deaths occurred in HMYOI Glen Parva (six) and HMP Chelmsford (four).

A further casework sample of 47 young and child deaths also found that:

  • 30% of those who died were care leavers or had suffered some kind of family breakdown which required them to live outside of their immediate family home.
  • 70% had mental health issues and 49% had self-harmed previously.

A critical concern is that prison establishments have not learned lessons from previous deaths in prisons; too many deaths occur because the same mistakes are made time and again. In the light of these concerns, this report considers the implications and reasons behind prison deaths since 2011. Lastly, the report stresses the need for new thinking and new strategies if such deaths are to be avoided in the future.

Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive of Barrow Cadbury Trust said:

“This report provides a particularly tragic window to see what is now irrefutable – a distinct approach to young adults at all stages of the criminal justice process is needed. This would save young people’s lives, reduce future crime and prevent considerable economic waste."

Lord David Rambotham said:

"I thank INQUEST for this important and well researched report. What this report demonstrates is that very little has been learned from past deaths and that there is a real lack of leadership and responsibility in prison management. If we have leadership we can ensure accountability."