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MOJ reports a further increase in prison deaths, assaults and self-harming incidents
5 November 2015
New statistical data published by the Ministry of Justice, on 29 October 2015, show a further spike in prison deaths, assaults and self-harming incidents.
267 people have died in prisons in England and Wales between September 2014 and September 2015 – the highest number in 10 years. The deaths comprise of:
- 95 apparent self-inflicted deaths, up from 91 on the same period in 2014
- 153 deaths due to natural causes, up from 136 on the same period in 2014
- Seven apparent homicides, up from three on the same period in 2014.
Reported incidents of self-harm and assault have also seen a dramatic increase between June 2014 and June 2015:
- There have been 28,881 reported incidents of self-harm, up by 4,929 incidents (21%) from the same period in 2014
- 17,581 assault incidents, up 13% from 15,548 incidents in the 12 months to June 2014
The increase in prison deaths offer a stark illustration of how the penal system is failing individuals in custody, and the lack of institutional learning to prevent future deaths from occurring.
INQUEST’s evidence demonstrates systemic failings in care, treatment and diversion of individuals away from the criminal justice system – particularly those with mental health issues and who are at risk of self-harm. Despite similar patterns and trends across the prison estate, there is a lack of institutional accountability and political will to make radical changes to the system.
Institutions have a duty of care to people in custody, yet due to an abysmal lack of resources, staff training and a dangerous preoccupation with punishment, the deaths continue.
INQUEST continues to flag these concerns at the policy and practice level. Through our extensive work around the Harris Review into the self-inflicted deaths of 18-24 year olds in prison custody, INQUEST facilitated a series of listening events for families to speak directly to Harris Review panel members. INQUEST is also represented on the Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody and periodically raises concerns to senior ministers and practitioners working in the criminal justice system.
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