Safety in custody reports
28/04/2017 14:40:00 by Zoey

In the last month three reports have been published highlighting the need to look into the self-harm and deaths of women in custody.

The Ministry of Justice’s safety in custody statistics published yesterday found that the rate of self-harm incidents is 1,987 per 1,000 women prisoners, an increase of 4% in the number of incidents from the previous year. In 2016, women of mixed ethnicity had the highest rate of self-harm (2,723 incidents per 1,000 prisoners) followed by those of white ethnicity (2,150 incidents per 1,000 prisoners).

The Ministry of Justice's safety in custody statistics (quarterly update to December 2016) are available here.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman produced a report in March on self-inflicted deaths among female prisoners. In 2015, for the first time since 2007, women had a higher number of self-inflicted deaths per 1,000 prisoners than men. Overall, deaths of female prisoners more than doubled in 2016 compared to the previous calendar year, and this rise shows little sign of abating.

The report is available here.

The Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP), of which Prison Reform Trust’s former director Juliet Lyon CBE Chairs, published their rapid evidence review on deaths of women in custody in March 2017. The report discussed some of the reasons why there has been a sharp and sudden rise in women’s deaths in custody such as, reduction in staffing levels; unmet mental health, drug and alcohol treatment needs; increase in illicit drug use, intimidation, bullying and debt in custody; a marked decrease in the use of ROTL; an increased likelihood of homelessness on release and high numbers of recalls; and, the knock of effect of the closure of HMP Holloway including the increased distance from home and closure of women-only support services in the community.

The full literature review can be found here.