Prisoners: Suicide

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 4 January 2024.

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Photo of Lord Harries of Pentregarth Lord Harries of Pentregarth Crossbench

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce the number of suicides in prison.

Photo of Lord Bellamy Lord Bellamy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Every death in custody is a tragedy and we continue to do all we can to improve the safety of prisoners.

We know that relationships between staff and prisoners plays an important role in preventing self-inflicted deaths in prisons and that is why we have announced additional investment in our workforce. As of 30 September 2023, there were 23,058 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Band 3-5 prison officers in post, an increase of 1,441 FTE since 30 September 2022. This means staff can provide more support for prisoners and better monitor the risk of harm. In addition to recruiting new officers, we are developing and phasing in a new safety training package for staff. It brings together information on related safety topics, including suicide and self-harm prevention, understanding risks, triggers and protective factors. This training is complemented by a revised version of the case management approach used in prisons to support people at risk of suicide or self-harm.

We will continue to fund the Samaritans (£625,000 each year until March 2025) to deliver the Listener scheme where prisoners are trained to provide emotional support to each other. We have also worked with the Samaritans to design an additional support service for prisons in the period following a self-inflicted death, with the aim of reducing the risk of further deaths.

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