Northern Ireland written question – answered on 4th February 2004.

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Photo of Iris Robinson Iris Robinson DUP, Strangford

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many prisoners in Northern Ireland are the subject of suicide watch observations; and what the corresponding figure was for the first day of each of the last 12 months.

Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

Where there is concern that a prisoner may be at risk of self-harm a form IMR 21 is completed to inform staff. This might lead to a period of assessment in the healthcare unit for those deemed to be at a more serious risk. This period of assessment might also include a period of close observation. In the period January-December 2003, the number of IMR 21 forms raised was as follows:

Month IMR 21 referrals
January 2003 11
February 2003 11
March 2003 16
April 2003 16
May 2003 11
June 2003 23
July 2003 15
August 2003 19
September 2003 22
October 2003 24
November 2003 39
December 2003 33

There has been an increase in the number of IMR 21 forms raised during the past year due to the increase in prisoner population and increasing tensions because of separation issues in Maghaberry.

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