Violence and self-injury in prisons reaches new record high

By agency reporter
July 27, 2018

The shocking rise in violence and self-injury in prisons in England and Wales has been even worse than previously recorded, official figures have revealed.

A statistical bulletin published by the Ministry of Justice shows that assaults and incidents of self-injury have been under-reported by about 10 per cent in the last year – and assaults to an even greater extent previously.

The best measure available is a batch of figures published by the Ministry of Justice on 26 July 2018, which show that prisons recorded 46,859 incidents of self-injury in the 12 months to the end of March 2018 – a 16 per cent increase on the previous year.

Recorded assaults also rose by 16 per cent to 31,025 over the same period.

They included 9,003 assaults on prison staff – a 26 per cent rise compared to the figure recorded for the 12 months to the end of March 2017. The Ministry of Justice says that a change in the way these incidents are recorded may have contributed to the increase.

Assaults and incidents of self-injury in prisons have once again risen to new record highs. An incident of self-injury is recorded every 11 minutes, and an assault is recorded every 17 minutes.

The figures show that 310 people died in prison custody in the 12 months to the end of June 2018, including 77 people who lost their lives through suicide.

The Ministry of Justice has also published annual prison performance ratings, with 15 prisons given the worst possible score. They are Bedford, Birmingham, Bristol, Chelmsford, Exeter, Lindholme, Liverpool, The Mount, Nottingham, Onley, Peterborough men’s prison, Portland, Wandsworth, Winchester and Wormwood Scrubs.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The disclosure that assaults and incidents of self-injury have been under-reported further illustrates the chaos that we have seen in our overcrowded and under-resourced prison system in recent years.

“With incidents of self-injury happening every 11 minutes, with assaults occurring every 17 minutes and with six people dying in prison every week, the government must act boldly and decisively to prevent more bloodshed behind bars.

“Reducing the number of people in prison would save lives, protect staff and prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of crime, violence and despair.”

* The Ministry of Justice statistics on safety in custody can be accessed here

* Howard League for Penal Reform


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