Prisoners: Suicide

(asked on 8th July 2014) - View Source

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prisoners have committed suicide in custody in the United Kingdom in each of the last 10 years; and what the percentage change has been year on year for the same period.


Answered by
Lord Faulks Portrait
Lord Faulks
This question was answered on 28th July 2014

The government is committed to open and transparent reporting of deaths in custody and publish statistics on deaths in prison custody in England and Wales quarterly in the National Statistics “Safety in Custody” bulletin. This statistical series can be found at www.gov.uk/government/collections/safety-in-custody-statistics.

The number of (i) deaths in prison custody and year-on-year change is presented in table 1. The number of (ii) self-inflicted deaths in prison custody and year-on-year change is presented in table 2.

Figures are provided for England and Wales only. Figures are not published by the Ministry of Justice for other areas of the United Kingdom as the judicial systems are a devolved matter for the respective administrations.

In 2013 there were 2.55 deaths per 1,000 prisoners and between 2008 and 2013 less than 1 prisoner in every 1,000 died from a self-inflicted death. The rate of self-inflicted deaths was consistently above 1 death per 1,000 prisoners between 1993 and 2005, peaking at 1.4 self-inflicted deaths per 1,000 prisoners in 1999.

Table 1: Number of deaths and year-on-year percentage change of deaths in prison custody

Year

Number

Year-on-year change (%)

Death rate per 1,000 prisoners

2004

208

-

2.79

2005

175

-16%

2.30

2006

153

-13%

1.96

2007

185

21%

2.30

2008

166

-10%

2.01

2009

169

2%

2.02

2010

198

17%

2.34

2011

192

-3%

2.24

2012

192

0%

2.23

2013

215

12%

2.55

Table 2: Number of self-inflicted deaths and year-on-year percentage change of self-inflicted deaths in prison custody

Year

Number

Year-on-year change (%)

Self-inflicted deaths per 1,000 prisoners

2004

96

-

1.29

2005

78

-19%

1.03

2006

66

-15%

0.84

2007

92

39%

1.14

2008

61

-34%

0.74

2009

61

0%

0.73

2010

58

-5%

0.68

2011

57

-2%

0.66

2012

60

5%

0.70

2013

74

23%

0.88

Reducing the number of self-inflicted deaths in custody is a key priority – we are working hard to understand the reasons for the recent rise in self-inflicted deaths. But this is a complex issue and there is no simple explanation for the rise.

All deaths are subject to investigation by the police and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and a Coroner’s inquest, and strenuous efforts are made to learn lessons from these processes.

All prisons have procedures to identify, manage and support people who are at risk of harm to themselves. Prisoners at risk are subject to individual case management and receive support from prison staff, supplemented, where appropriate, by input from mental health services and a range of other sources such as peer supporters and the Samaritans.

There is strong oversight of deaths in custody through the Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody, which includes an Independent Advisory Panel that has recently been commissioned by the Secretary of State to conduct an independent review of deaths of 18-24 year olds in prison custody since 2007 to report by spring 2015. This will help identify learning points that can be applied across all age groups.

Additional resources and support are being provided for safer custody work in prisons and in particular to improve the consistency of the application of the case management system for prisoners identified as at risk of self harm or suicide.

This content was generated for your convenience by Parallel Parliament and does not form part of the official record.
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