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26 Jan 2017

119 people died by suicide in prisons in England and Wales last year

Netting in Wandsworth prison

An all-time record number of people lost their lives through suicide in prisons in England and Wales last year, figures seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform confirm today (Thursday 26 January).

Official data published by the Ministry of Justice show that 119 prisoners died by suicide during 2016 – the highest number in a calendar year since current recording practices began in 1978. The previous high was in 2004, when 96 deaths by suicide were recorded.

Twelve women lost their lives through suicide in 2016 – more than double the number of women who took their own lives during the previous year.

They were among a total of 354 people who died in prisons in England and Wales during 2016 – another record high and a 38 per cent rise on the year before.

In addition to the 119 men and women who took their own lives, 196 prisoners were recorded to have died of natural causes. Investigations into the deaths of a further 28 prisoners remain incomplete, with further information awaited.

Today’s figures show that the number of prisoners who died by suicide in 2015 has been revised upwards from 89 to 90, raising concerns that the total recorded in 2016 could yet rise further.

Today’s figures also reveal:

  • There were 37,784 reported incidents of self-injury in prisons during the 12 months to the end of September 2016 – a 23 per cent rise on the previous year.
  • Recorded incidents of self-injury among men rose by 30 per cent in a year – from 23,359 in the 12 months ending September 2015 to 30,465 in the 12 months ending September 2016. Recorded incidents of self-injury in men’s prisons have risen by 88 per cent since 2012.
  • Recorded incidents of self-injury among women in prison fell by 2 per cent. However, although women make up less than 5 per cent of the prison population, women’s prisons accounted for 20 per cent of all incidents of self-injury.
  • There were 3,372 serious assaults in prisons during the 12 months to the end of September 2016 – a 28 per cent rise on the previous year. There were 25,049 assaults in total – a 31 per cent increase.
  • There were 6,430 assaults on prison staff – a 40 per cent increase on the previous year. The number of serious assaults on staff rose by 26 per cent to 761. 

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is official –  more people died in prisons in 2016 than in any other year on record, and more prisoners died by suicide than ever before.

“No one should be so desperate while in the care of the state that they take their own life, and yet every three days a family is told that a loved one has died behind bars.

“Cutting staff and prison budgets while allowing the number of people behind bars to grow unchecked has created a toxic mix of violence, death and human misery.

“The problems are clear for all to see. The Howard League is offering solutions. We have shown ministers how, by taking bold but sensible action to reduce the number of people in prison, we can save lives and prevent more people being swept away into deeper currents of crime and despair.”

The Howard League and another charity, Centre for Mental Health, have been working together on a joint inquiry into preventing prison suicides.

Research, published last November as part of the inquiry, found that the increasing number of prison suicides had coincided with cuts to staffing and budgets, as well as a rise in the number of people in prison, resulting in overcrowding. Violence had increased and safety had deteriorated.

The report stated that prisoners were spending up to 23 hours a day locked in their cells and at the same time the imposition of prison punishments had increased. It found that a more punitive daily regime had been introduced in prisons at the same time as the number of deaths by suicide began to rise.

Suicides in prisons

The number of deaths by suicide in each prison in England and Wales since 2013 is indicated in the table below:

 

Prison Deaths in prison per year
(Deaths by suicide are indicated in brackets)
2013 2014 2015 2016
Altcourse 4 (2) 5 (2) 4 (0) 7 (2)
Ashfield 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0) 2 (0)
Askham Grange 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Aylesbury 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Bedford 1 (1) 2 (1) 2 (1) 4 (4)
Belmarsh 3 (2) 2 (1) 4 (1) 1 (1)
Birmingham 4 (3) 4 (1) 4 (1) 7 (1)
Blantyre House 1 (1) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Blundeston 1 (1) * * *
Brinsford 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (1) 0 (0)
Bristol 1 (1) 1 (0) 4 (2) 7 (5)
Brixton 2 (0) 3 (2) 1 (0) 0 (0)
Bronzefield 1 (0) 1 (0) 1 (1) 1 (0)
Buckley Hall 0 (0) 0 (0) 2 (0) 0 (0)
Bullingdon 3 (2) 2 (2) 5 (3) 4 (1)
Bure 1 (0) 1 (0) 2 (0) 2 (0)
Cardiff 2 (1) 3 (1) 1 (1) 4 (1)
Channings Wood 5 (0) 2 (0) 3 (0) 4 (2)
Chelmsford 3 (3) 1 (1) 3 (3) 4 (3)
Coldingley 1 (0) 0 (0) 2 (0) 1 (0)
Cookham Wood 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0) 0 (0)
Dartmoor 0 (0) 2 (0) 5 (1) 3 (0)
Deerbolt 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (1)
Doncaster 1 (0) 4 (2) 5 (1) 4 (2)
Dorchester 2 (1) * * *
Dovegate 4 (4) 0 (0) 3 (1) 1 (0)
Downview 2 (1) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Drake Hall 0 (0) 1 (0) 0 (0) 1 (1)
Durham 4 (3) 2 (2) 3 (2) 3 (1)
East Sutton Park 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Eastwood Park 1 (0) 2 (0) 0 (0) 7 (3)
Elmley 2 (2) 9 (5) 3 (0) 7 (1)
Erlestoke 0 (0) 1 (0) 1 (1) 1 (0)
Everthorpe 0 (0) 1 (1)** ** **
Exeter 1 (0) 7 (3) 10 (4) 13 (4)
Featherstone 2 (0) 2 (2) 0 (0) 3 (1)
Feltham 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Ford 0 (0) 1 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Forest Bank 2 (1) 2 (1) 3 (1) 2 (1)
Foston Hall 0 (0) 0 (0) 4 (3) 2 (2)
Frankland 3 (0) 4 (1) 3 (0) 2 (0)
Full Sutton 4 (0) 2 (1) 6 (1) 4 (0)
Garth 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (1) 5 (2)
Gartree 1 (0) 3 (0) 1 (1) 5 (1)
Glen Parva 2 (2) 1 (1) 2 (2) 1 (1)
Gloucester 1 (1) * * *
Grendon 0 (0) 0 (0) 2 (1) 0 (0)
Guys Marsh 0 (0) 0 (0) 3 (2) 3 (1)
Hatfield 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0) 0 (0)
Haverigg 0 (0) 1 (1) 2 (0) 2 (1)
Hewell 5 (3) 7 (2) 4 (3) 3 (1)
High Down 4 (1) 3 (0) 4 (1) 1 (0)
Highpoint 4 (1) 4 (3) 1 (1) 1 (0)
Hindley 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 3 (1)
Hollesley Bay 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Holloway 0 (0) 1 (1) 1 (0) 1 (1)
Holme House 9 (2) 4 (2) 4 (1) 4 (1)
Hull 1 (0) 3 (0) 3 (3) 8 (2)
Humber ** 2 (2) 2 (0) 5 (4)
Huntercombe 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (1)
Isis 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (1)
Isle of Wight 10 (1) 7 (0) 9 (0) 4 (0)
Kennet 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Kirkham 1 (0) 1 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0)
Kirklevington Grange 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Lancaster Farms 0 (0) 1 (1) 1 (0) 0 (0)
Leeds 5 (2) 7 (3) 3 (2) 8 (4)
Leicester 1 (0) 1 (1) 2 (1) 1 (1)
Lewes 0 (0) 3 (0) 1 (0) 8 (1)
Leyhill 3 (0) 3 (0) 2 (0) 4 (0)
Lincoln 3 (1) 0 (0) 3 (2) 3 (2)
Lindholme 1 (0) 0 (0) 3 (0) 4 (2)
Littlehey 0 (0) 2 (0) 4 (0) 10 (0)
Liverpool 4 (1) 6 (4) 5 (2) 8 (3)
Long Lartin 5 (1) 3 (2) 2 (1) 2 (0)
Low Newton 1 (1) 1 (0) 2 (1) 1 (1)
Lowdham Grange 1 (0) 0 (0) 2 (0) 2 (2)
Maidstone 3 (1) 1 (0) 1 (1) 0 (0)
Manchester 1 (1) 4 (1) 3 (0) 8 (4)
Moorland 2 (0) 3 (1) 2 (0) 5 (3)
Morton Hall*** 0 (0) 1 (1) 0 (0) 0 (0)
New Hall 1 (0) 1 (1) 0 (0) 4 (3)
North Sea Camp 1 (0) 1 (0) 1 (0) 1 (0)
Northumberland 3 (1) 5 (1) 4 (1) 6 (3)
Norwich 7 (3) 4 (0) 8 (2) 7 (0)
Nottingham 3 (1) 3 (1) 3 (0) 3 (2)
Oakwood 1 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 6 (1)
Onley 0 (0) 0 (0) 2 (1) 1 (0)
Parc 7 (0) 5 (2) 4 (0) 9 (3)
Pentonville 1 (1) 3 (1) 2 (2) 7 (3)
Peterborough 1 (1) 5 (2) 3 (1) 6 (1)
Portland 1 (1) 1 (1) 0 (0) 1 (1)
Preston 6 (1) 4 (3) 4 (0) 1 (1)
Ranby 3 (2) 4 (2) 6 (4) 0 (0)
Risley 3 (0) 3 (2) 2 (0) 2 (1)
Rochester 0 (0) 2 (0) 1 (1) 0 (0)
Rye Hill 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0) 6 (0)
Send 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Spring Hill 1 (1) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Stafford 1 (0) 2 (0) 1 (0) 5 (0)
Standford Hill 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Stocken 1 (0) 0 (0) 2 (1) 2 (0)
Stoke Heath 1 (1) 0 (0) 2 (1) 1 (0)
Styal 0 (0) 3 (0) 0 (0) 1 (1)
Sudbury 1 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0) 2 (0)
Swaleside 3 (0) 2 (0) 3 (1) 1 (1)
Swansea 0 (0) 1 (1) 1 (1) 3 (3)
Swinfen Hall 0 (0) 1 (1) 1 (1) 0 (0)
Thameside 2 (1) 2 (0) 1 (1) 5 (0)
The Mount 1 (1) 2 (1) 2 (2) 2 (1)
The Verne*** 0 (0) 1 (0) 1 (1) 0 (0)
Thorn Cross 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Usk\Prescoed 2 (0) 3 (0) 1 (0) 2 (0)
Wakefield 7 (0) 4 (1) 5 (0) 11 (0)
Wandsworth 1 (0) 10 (5) 5 (3) 3 (2)
Warren Hill 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (0) 0 (0)
Wayland 0 (0) 2 (2) 1 (0) 4 (3)
Wealstun 1 (1) 1 (0) 1 (1) 0 (0)
Werrington 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Wetherby 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Whatton 3 (0) 7 (0) 7 (0) 4 (0)
Whitemoor 1 (1) 4 (1) 1 (0) 3 (1)
Winchester 3 (0) 4 (2) 7 (4) 5 (1)
Wolds 0 ** ** **
Woodhill 5 (4) 3 (2) 5 (5) 12 (7)
Wormwood Scrubs 6 (5) 1 (1) 3 (1) 6 (2)
Wymott 6 (5) 9 (1) 1 (0) 7 (0)
Escort areas 2 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
TOTAL 215 (76) 243 (89) 257 (90) 354 (119)

*Prison closed.

**Humber prison was created by an amalgamation of Everthorpe and Wolds prisons in 2014.

***Immigration Removal Centre operated by the Ministry of Justice.

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  1. The Howard League and Centre for Mental Health are working together on a joint programme on preventing people from dying by suicide in prison. Further information about the programme can be found on Howard League webstie
  1. Preventing prison suicide, a report published in November 2016 as part of the inquiry, can be read online on Howard League website

Contact

Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
The Howard League for Penal Reform
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955
Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org

ISDN line available on 020 7923 4196 – uses a G722 system
For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094.

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