Prisons: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 27th October 2020.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Answer of 12 June 2020 to Question 54072 on Prisons: Coronavirus, what recent assessment he has made of levels of (a) self-harm, (b) attempted suicide, (c) suicide, (d) violence between prisoners, (e) attacks on prison staff and (f) mental health crises in prisons during the covid-19 outbreak.

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

Our most recently published Safety in Custody statistics which contains data on assaults and self-harm, cover the period up to the end of March 2020 and therefore do not cover the majority of the covid-19 outbreak.

These figures show that the number of self-harm incidents increased by 11% in the 12 months to March 2020, although have decreased in the past two quarters, including a 6% decrease in the latest quarter.

Assaults up to March 2020 are down 8% from the 12 months to March 2019, and we have seen reductions in this for the last four quarters. Similarly, assaults on staff have decreased by 5% in the year to March 2020.

In the 12 months to June 2020 self-inflicted deaths in prison custody decreased by 13% from the previous 12 months.

Figures for assaults and self-harm up to the end of June, and deaths to the end of October will be published on 29 October 2020

Safety has remained a priority throughout the pandemic, and we recognise the need to remain vigilant to the risks to prisoners and staff as impacts of the virus continue.

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.

Our plan for easing restrictions in prisons, and re-introducing them where necessary, is set out in the National Framework for Prison Regimes and Services and is guided by public health advice, whilst ensuring we can keep staff and prisoners safe.

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