We recognise that the level of self-harm in the women’s estate is too high and are determined to reduce this. A Women’s Self-Harm Task Force was set up in April 2020 in response to our increasing concerns about the level of self-harm in the Women’s estate. We know that many of the drivers (risks and triggers) and protective factors linked to women’s risk of self-harm in prisons have been impacted by Covid-19 and the restricted regimes that have been put in place to control the spread of infection.
The Task Force has led work to introduce a number of specific interventions to counteract the impact of Covid-19 on self-harm in the Women’s estate. This work has seen the introduction of bespoke well-being checks, increased credit to enable phone calls and increased access to Purple Visits (video calls with family and friends).
We have prioritised the roll out of the revised version of the Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT) multi-disciplinary case management system used in prisons to support people at risk of suicide and self-harm. We will also be implementing the Offender Management in Custody model in the female estate in April. This will provide each woman in the female estate with a dedicated key worker who will be able to better support them and identify concerns at an early stage so that women can receive the right support at the right time.
We have also produced a range of products to support Governors in devising and implementing local safety and welfare plans designed to mitigate risks and promote wellbeing. We have developed new guidance for staff on understanding and supporting someone who is self-harming. We continue to make the Samaritans phone service available and are working with the Samaritans to ensure that the Listener peer support scheme continues to function effectively wherever possible.
There has been further investment to support the wellbeing of women offenders in custody, including investment into increased phone credit for women and bespoke well-being checks. Further work has also been done to increase the number of video calls that prisoners have with family and friends.
Crucially, we have also invested £5m in alternatives to prison, including new women’s centres which help people address issues such as alcohol or drug addiction which leads them to crime.