Prisoners: Suicide

House of Lords written question – answered on 15th January 2015.

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Photo of Lord Patel of Bradford Lord Patel of Bradford Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people committed suicide in prison in England in 2014; and of those (1) how many received mental health assessments prior to their deaths, and (2) how many were diagnosed with a mental health illness.

Photo of Lord Faulks Lord Faulks The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The number of self-inflicted deaths in prison custody in 2014 is due to be released on the 29th January 2015 at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/safety-in-custody-statistics

The most recent Safety in Custody statistics bulletin covers deaths in prison custody up to the end of September 2014. In the first 9 months of 2014 there had been 58 self-inflicted deaths in prison custody in England. As it can be difficult to determine a person’s intent to take their own life, the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) classifies any death where a person has apparently taken their own life, irrespective of intent, as a self-inflicted death.

Information on mental health assessments and diagnoses are not collected centrally.

Prisoners receive a detailed medical examination on reception and those identified as having mental health needs are referred for a further mental health assessment. The reception healthcare screen also includes an assessment of the risk of self harm or suicide. Prisoners identified as being at risk of self harm or suicide (on reception, or at any point during their time in custody) are subject to Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT), a flexible, prisoner-centred care planning process. The ACCT process includes a detailed psychosocial assessment by a trained assessor within 24 hours, and this is followed immediately by the first multi-disciplinary case review, at which a decision is reached about whether or not a further mental health assessment is necessary.

We are applying strenuous efforts to learn from each death and are providing further resources and support to prisons to help support their safer custody work. Reducing the number of self-inflicted deaths in prisons is a top priority, and our dedicated resources are providing support to many vulnerable prisoners every single day.

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