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Prisoners: Suicide

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Labour, Cardiff Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many prisoners have taken their own life whilst serving a sentence of imprisonment for public protection in each year since 2010.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The most recent published data about self-inflicted deaths in custody includes figures up to the end of the 2018, broken down by type of sentence. It is in table 1.11 of Deaths in prison custody 1978 to 2018, which can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/safety-in-custody-quarterly-update-to-september-2018. However, we have recently identified possible errors in the published data. I will write to the Hon Member with updated figures when they are available, and ensure that the next issue of data includes corrected figures.

Every death in custody is a tragedy, and we are committed to learning lessons from these deaths wherever possible. Most of the deaths were from natural causes but some were self-inflicted, and the Government is taking unprecedented action to improve safety in prisons, including redoubling our efforts to prevent such deaths. We have recruited over 4,700 more prison officers since October 2016, and we now have the greatest number in post since early 2012. This is allowing us to implement the key worker role, providing staff dedicated time to support individual prisoners.

We are improving support for prisoners in their early days in custody and developing a new version of the multi-disciplinary ACCT case management process for those at risk of suicide. We have rolled out a revised and improved Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention course. This is being completed by all new staff and as refresher training by all existing staff. Nearly 25,000 staff have already begun this training and over 14,000 have completed all six modules.

While we are focused on giving all prisoners serving IPP sentences opportunities to progress towards release, public protection must remain our priority. A range of initiatives are in place, as part of the joint action plan, co-owned by HM Prison and Probation Service and the Parole Board, which are having a positive impact on the progression of those serving an IPP sentence.

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