26 January 2017
BBC — A record number of people killed themselves in prisons in England and Wales in 2016, figures show.
The Ministry of Justice said there were 119 self-inflicted deaths – 29 more than the previous year and the highest number since records began in 1978.
It also reported a record high of 37,784 self-harm incidents and 25,049 assault incidents.
Justice Secretary Liz Truss said prisons faced “long-standing issues that will not be resolved in weeks”.
She said the government was investing an extra £100m into the prisons estate, as well as hiring 2,500 more officers.
Last year, thousands of staff walked out in protest over health and safety concerns, amid claims the prison system was “in meltdown” because of overcrowding and staff shortages.
A number of serious disturbances also erupted in jails.
The MOJ figures show that in the 12 months to September 2016 there were:
- Seven suicides at Woodhill, in Milton Keynes – the jail with the highest number
- Five in Bristol and four each in Bedford, Exeter, Humber, Leeds and Manchester prisons
- A record 354 deaths in custody overall – up by about a third on 2015
- Three apparent homicides – down from a record eight in 2015
- Nearly 70 assaults every day – the number of serious attacks was up 28%
- 6,430 assaults on staff – up 40% on 2015. Of these, 761 were classed as serious
Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said reducing the jail population was the “only realistic way to make our prisons safe in the foreseeable future”.
Prisons in England in Wales are at 98% capacity, with 85,058 inmates, according to latest figures. The vast majority of inmates – 81,102 – are men.
Mr Dawson added: “We know that the worst outcomes happen in overcrowded prisons. […]