26 Jan 2023
More than 300 people died in prisons in England and Wales last year
More than 300 people died in prisons in England and Wales last year, official data seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform reveal today (Thursday 26 January).
A statistical bulletin, published by the Ministry of Justice, shows that 301 people in prison custody died in 2022, including 74 people whose deaths were recorded as ‘self-inflicted’. These figures are lower than in 2021, when 371 people died – the highest number in a calendar year since current recording practices began.
The bulletin states that prisons recorded 54,761 incidents of self-harm in the 12 months to the end of September 2022, at a rate of one every nine-and-a-half minutes. Self-harm incidents rose by 1 per cent in men’s prisons and 18 per cent in women’s prisons.
Over the same period, prisons recorded 20,872 assaults – an 11 per cent rise on the figures for the previous 12 months.
Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “These grim figures lay bare the scale of the mental health crisis in prisons across England and Wales. The alarming rate of self-harm incidents – one every nine-and-a-half minutes – should alert everyone to the intolerable conditions faced by people living and working behind bars.
“While the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be behind us, six people die in prison each week. Although restrictions in the community were eased long ago, thousands of men and women in prison remain locked in their cells for more than 20 hours each day. The number of people held on remand is at its highest level for more than half a century. The damage caused by all this is widespread, and yet still not fully understood.
“As the government presses ahead with its wrong-headed plans, building more prisons with no thought for the consequences, these tragedies lie forgotten in the background. The Howard League will keep bringing them to the fore.”
Notes to editors
- 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.
- The Howard League and another charity, Centre for Mental Health, worked together on a joint programme on preventing people losing their lives through suicide in prison. Further information about the programme can be found on the Howard League website.
- All Howard League correspondence and materials about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the criminal justice system can be found on the charity’s website.
- The Ministry of Justice statistical bulletin, Safety in custody: quarterly update to September 2022, can be accessed online.
- The number of people who died in each prison in England and Wales in 2022 is recorded in the table below:
|Prison||Number of people who died in 2022|
|East Sutton Park||0|
|Isle of Wight||7|
|Moorland Open (Hatfield)||0|
|North Sea Camp||0|
|Sheppey: Standford Hill||1|
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