Prisons: Suicides - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:18 pm on 31 January 2024.

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Photo of Lord Stewart of Dirleton Lord Stewart of Dirleton The Advocate-General for Scotland 3:18, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that question and for the informal discussion we had prior to Questions today. We know that the risk of suicide can be higher when prisoners are on remand and in the early days of their sentence, when the experience of prison is new and shocking, or for that matter when they have been recalled to custody. We have digitally streamlined the reception processes to flag risk information earlier, in the manner I was describing earlier to the noble Lord.

We are promoting supportive conversations between staff and prisoners. All incoming prisoners are interviewed in reception areas to assess their risk of self-harm. There is a risk identification toolkit—a training measure for officers—which helps staff assess risk effectively and provides appropriate support to manage identified risk. We are rolling out a peer support project—this is the sort of work I was discussing with the noble Lord earlier—where prisoners mentor one another, thereby, most importantly, inculcating supportiveness and strengthening and encouraging self-worth.