Prisons: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 12th June 2020.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what monitoring his Department is undertaking of any pattern of increase in incidents in (a) individual custodial facilities and (b) across the custodial estate in England and Wales of (i) self-harm, (ii) attempted suicide, (iii) suicide, (iv) violence between prisoners, (v) attacks on prison staff and (vi) mental health crises since the extended implementation of restricted regimes in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

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

We are closely monitoring the impact of restricted regimes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is taking place at both individual establishment and estate-wide level, and includes an oversight of the levels in the male and female estates and youth estate. Data on self-harm and assaults for this period is not yet available. Quarterly figures up to 31st March 2020 will be published on 30th July.

Safety continues to be a priority during the current crisis, and we recognise that circumstances regarding COVID-19 may increase the risk of self-harm and violence for some prisoners.

The most recent quarter up to 31st March saw the number of deaths decrease to 63, down from 74 in the three months to December 2019. We are learning from any recent deaths and will continue to monitor the impact of restricted regimes on the number of self-inflicted deaths across the estate.

Information about the risks of isolation has been shared with Governors and we will continue to work to monitor and mitigate these as far as possible. We are continuing to provide care and support to people at risk of self-harm or suicide through ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork) case management and provide a range of distraction packs and in-cell activities. We are also working with the Samaritans to ensure that the Listener peer support scheme continues to function effectively.

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