MOJ Statistics Reveal Worrying Rise in Prison Deaths
The Ministry of Justice's 'Safety in Custody' statistics released today make for grim reading. The official figures reveal a record number of deaths in prison over the course of 2016; 354 in total, including a record high of 119 that are recorded as 'self-inflicted'. The number of deaths went up by an alarming 38% from 2015 (with the number of self-inflicted deaths up by 32%), along with self-harm incidents rising by 23% to 37,784 recorded instances, and assaults up by 31% to 25,049.
A look at the figures going back to 2007 shows a sharp rise from 2013 onwards, reflecting the crisis which has been unfolding in the UK's prisons for a number of years. Prisons are underfunded, overcrowded and not fit for purpose. It is crucial that the Government faces up to these figures and takes swift action to make prisons safer for inmates.
Statistics published by the Prison Reform Trust show that mental illness is particularly prevalent amongst the prison population, crucially finding that 46% of female and 21% of male prisoners have attempted suicide at some point in their lives. This unfortunately accords with our own experience in representing the families of prisoners who have taken their own life, despite often having a known history of mental health problems and self-harm. If vulnerable prisoners are not given the care and treatment they require then the tragic upturn in deaths is likely to continue.