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28 Jan 2016

Suicide in prison: 89 took their own lives in 2015

Netting in Wandsworth prison

Eighty-nine people took their own lives in prisons during 2015 as the suicide rate behind bars remained at an alarmingly high level, figures seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform reveal today (Thursday 28 January).

A further eight prisoners were killed in apparent homicides during 2015 – the highest number in a single year since current recording practices began in 1978.

Figures published today (Thursday 28 January) by the Ministry of Justice reveal that, in total, 257 people died in prisons in England and Wales last year.

Today’s report also shows that the number of deaths by suicide in 2014 has been revised upwards from 86 to 89, raising concerns that the total in 2015 could yet rise further as unclassified deaths are subject to further investigation.

Deaths by suicide have risen by 46 per cent in the last three years, at a time when prisons across England and Wales have struggled to cope with growing numbers of prisoners, chronic overcrowding and deep staff cuts.

Today’s figures also reveal:

  • There were 30,706 reported incidents of self-injury in prisons during the 12 months to the end of September 2015 – a 24 per cent rise on the previous year.
  • There were 23,291 reported incidents of self-injury by male prisoners during the 12 months to the end of September 2015 – a rise of 63 per cent since 2009-10 and 102 per cent since 2005-06.
  • There were 2,606 serious assaults in prisons during the 12 months to the end of September 2015 – a 30 per cent rise on the previous year.
  • The number of serious assaults on prison staff has more than doubled since 2011-12.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “No one should be so desperate whilst they are in the care of the state that they take their own life. The numbers hide the true extent of misery for prisoners and families – and for staff, who have been given the impossible task of keeping people safe in overcrowded prisons starved of resources. The question now for the Ministry of Justice is: what to do? This level of deaths, violence and anguish in prisons cannot continue to rise in a civilised society. We cannot go on cramming more people into jails without any thought for the consequences.”

The Howard League and Centre for Mental Health, are working together on a joint programme on preventing people from dying by suicide in prison.

Analysis of cases reported to the Howard League last year suggests that people who are held in prison on remand, or have been recalled to prison while on licence, are disproportionately likely to take their own lives.

About 40 per cent of prisoners who died by suicide in 2015 were on remand at the time of their deaths, even though people on remand make up only 15 per cent of the prison population at any one time.

About 14 per cent of prisoners who died by suicide in 2015 were in prison due to a licence recall. Recalled prisoners account for only 7 per cent of the prison population.

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.
  2. Information about the joint programme on preventing people from dying by suicide prevention in prison can be found on the Howard League website here.
  3. Overcrowding data, broken down by prison, can be viewed on the Howard League website here.
  4. Data on staff cuts, broken down by prison, can be viewed on the Howard League website here.
  5. Deaths in prison custody data, published by the Ministry of Justice, can be found online here.
  6. The number of deaths by suicide in each prison in England and Wales during 2015 is shown in the following table:
Prison Self-inflicted deaths
Woodhill 5
Exeter 4
Ranby 4
Winchester 4
Bullingdon 3
Chelmsford 3
Foston Hall 3
Hewell 3
Hull 3
Wandsworth 3
Bristol 2
Durham 2
Glen Parva 2
Guys Marsh 2
Leeds 2
Lincoln 2
Liverpool 2
Mount 2
Norwich 2
Pentonville 2
Bedford 1
Belmarsh 1
Birmingham 1
Brinsford 1
Bronzefield 1
Cardiff 1
Dartmoor 1
Doncaster 1
Dovegate 1
Erlestoke 1
Forest Bank 1
Full Sutton 1
Garth 1
Gartree 1
Grendon/Spring Hill: Grendon 1
High Down 1
Holme House 1
Leicester 1
Long Lartin 1
Low Newton 1
Maidstone 1
Northumberland 1
Onley 1
Peterborough 1
Rochester 1
Sheppey: Swaleside 1
Stocken 1
Stoke Heath 1
Swansea 1
Swinfen Hall 1
Thameside 1
Verne 1
Wealstun 1
Wormwood Scrubs 1
Altcourse 0
Ashfield 0
Ashford 0
Ashwell 0
Askham Grange 0
Aylesbury 0
Blantyre House 0
Blundeston 0
Brixton 0
Buckley Hall 0
Bullwood Hall 0
Bure 0
Canterbury 0
Channings Wood 0
Coldingley 0
Cookham Wood 0
Deerbolt 0
Dorchester 0
Dover 0
Downview 0
Drake Hall 0
East Sutton Park 0
Eastwood Park 0
Edmunds Hill 0
Everthorpe 0
Featherstone 0
Feltham 0
Ford 0
Frankland 0
Gaynes Hall 0
Gloucester 0
Grendon/Spring Hill: Spring Hill 0
Haslar 0
Haverigg 0
Hewell: Blakenhurst 0
Hewell: Brockhill 0
Hewell: Hewell Grange 0
Highpoint 0
Hindley 0
Hollesley Bay 0
Holloway 0
Humber 0
Huntercombe 0
Isle of Wight 0
Kennet 0
Kingston 0
Kirkham 0
Kirklevington 0
Lancaster Castle 0
Lancaster Farms 0
Latchmere House 0
Lewes 0
Leyhill 0
Lindholme 0
Littlehey 0
Lowdham Grange 0
Manchester 0
Medomsley 0
Moorland 0
Moorland Open (Hatfield) 0
Morton Hall 0
New Hall 0
North Sea Camp 0
Northallerton 0
Northumberland: Acklington 0
Northumberland: Castington 0
Nottingham 0
Oakwood 0
Parc 0
Portland 0
Preston 0
Reading 0
Risley 0
Rye Hill 0
Send 0
Sheppey: Elmley 0
Sheppey: Standford Hill 0
Shepton Mallet 0
Shrewsbury 0
Stafford 0
Styal 0
Sudbury 0
Thorn Cross 0
Usk\Prescoed 0
Wakefield 0
Warren Hill 0
Wayland 0
Werrington 0
Wetherby 0
Whatton 0
Whitemoor 0
Wolds 0
Wymott 0
TOTAL 89

 

7.    The total number of deaths in each prison in England and Wales during 2015 is shown in the following table:

Prison Total deaths
Exeter 10
Isle of Wight 9
Norwich 8
Whatton 7
Winchester 7
Full Sutton 6
Ranby 6
Bullingdon 5
Dartmoor 5
Doncaster 5
Liverpool 5
Wakefield 5
Wandsworth 5
Woodhill 5
Altcourse 4
Belmarsh 4
Birmingham 4
Bristol 4
Foston Hall 4
Hewell 4
High Down 4
Holme House 4
Littlehey 4
Northumberland 4
Parc 4
Preston 4
Channings Wood 3
Chelmsford 3
Dovegate 3
Durham 3
Forest Bank 3
Frankland 3
Guys Marsh 3
Hull 3
Leeds 3
Lincoln 3
Lindholme 3
Manchester 3
Nottingham 3
Peterborough 3
Sheppey: Elmley 3
Sheppey: Swaleside 3
Wormwood Scrubs 3
Bedford 2
Buckley Hall 2
Bure 2
Coldingley 2
Glen Parva 2
Grendon/Spring Hill: Grendon 2
Haverigg 2
Humber 2
Leicester 2
Leyhill 2
Long Lartin 2
Low Newton 2
Lowdham Grange 2
Moorland 2
Mount 2
Onley 2
Pentonville 2
Risley 2
Stocken 2
Stoke Heath 2
Ashfield 1
Brinsford 1
Brixton 1
Bronzefield 1
Cardiff 1
Cookham Wood 1
Erlestoke 1
Garth 1
Gartree 1
Highpoint 1
Holloway 1
Lancaster Farms 1
Lewes 1
Maidstone 1
Moorland Open (Hatfield) 1
North Sea Camp 1
Rochester 1
Rye Hill 1
Stafford 1
Sudbury 1
Swansea 1
Swinfen Hall 1
Thameside 1
Usk\Prescoed 1
Verne 1
Warren Hill 1
Wayland 1
Wealstun 1
Whitemoor 1
Wymott 1
Ashford 0
Ashwell 0
Askham Grange 0
Aylesbury 0
Blantyre House 0
Blundeston 0
Bullwood Hall 0
Canterbury 0
Deerbolt 0
Dorchester 0
Dover 0
Downview 0
Drake Hall 0
East Sutton Park 0
Eastwood Park 0
Edmunds Hill 0
Everthorpe 0
Featherstone 0
Feltham 0
Ford 0
Gaynes Hall 0
Gloucester 0
Grendon/Spring Hill: Spring Hill 0
Haslar 0
Hewell: Blakenhurst 0
Hewell: Brockhill 0
Hewell: Hewell Grange 0
Hindley 0
Hollesley Bay 0
Huntercombe 0
Kennet 0
Kingston 0
Kirkham 0
Kirklevington 0
Lancaster Castle 0
Latchmere House 0
Medomsley 0
Morton Hall 0
New Hall 0
Northallerton 0
Northumberland: Acklington 0
Northumberland: Castington 0
Oakwood 0
Portland 0
Reading 0
Send 0
Sheppey: Standford Hill 0
Shepton Mallet 0
Shrewsbury 0
Styal 0
Thorn Cross 0
Werrington 0
Wetherby 0
Wolds 0
TOTAL 257

Contact

Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
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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