Skip Content

While you’re here, can you help support our work by making a donation? We are an independent charity and rely on donations to continue our work for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison. Please help us secure our future by donating and adding your voice to our movement for change.

Donate close-circle

Inquiry into Preventing Prison Suicides

The Howard League for Penal Reform conducted a joint project with Centre for Mental Health on preventing prison suicides

Netting in Wandsworth prison
70 Number of prisoners who died by suicide in England and Wales in 2017

There were 70 self-inflicted deaths in prison in 2017.

Ministry of Justice safety in custody statistics →

Of the 70 people who took their own lives in prison in 2017, two were women and seven were young adults aged 18-24.

Our work

The Howard League for Penal Reform and Centre for Mental Health worked together on a two year project to prevent prison suicides and bring about change in the criminal justice system.

We published a series of briefing papers which focused on the cost of prison suicide, the experiences of prisoners and prison staff and the impact of prison on mental health and wellbeing. On average, a prisoner dies every five days. The need for urgent action is clear.

Key recommendations

  • Prisons need to become safer, healthier places to reduce suicide risk
  • All prisons need enough staff with the right mix of skills and experience to be able to keep prisoners safe from harm
  • A prison regime should be built around a normal life. People in prison should be able to get up, have a shower and breakfast, occupy themselves productively, exercise and go outdoors
  • The revised IEP scheme is having a detrimental impact on prisoner wellbeing and is incompatible with a healthy, constructive regime.
  • Solitary confinement increases the risk of suicide and is detrimental to health and wellbeing
  • Investigations into self-inflicted deaths in prison must lead to action to reduce risk

Tagged with

  • Join us

    Add your voice to our movement for change. Every voice counts and we hope that you will add yours.

    Join us today
  • Support our work

    Everything we do is focused on achieving less crime, safer communities, fewer people in prison. We need you to act now for penal reform.

    Ways to support