INQUEST responds to inspection report on Styal women's prison

By agency reporter
September 5, 2018

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has today (5 September 2018) published an inspection report of HMP & YOI Styal, a women’s prison in Cheshire. The inspection, which was unannounced, was carried out from 23 April to 6 May 2018.
 
The report recognises the complex needs of women in Styal prison, many with histories of serious self-harm, mental ill health, substance misuse and experiences of trauma, abuse and domestic violence.
 
The inspectorate was positive about the outcomes achieved at Styal prison in each area of safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement.
 
The report also noted that:

  • 72 per cent of women reported having a mental health problem.
  • There had been 735 incidents of self-harm in the six months to March 2018, at an average of 125 incidents a month, which was more than twice the number at the previous inspection.
  • Four women were transferred under the Mental Health Act in the six months to March 2018.
  • 65 per cent of women released who were not on home detention curfew did not have sustainable accommodation.
  • Some women had been in and out of custody up to 11 times in 12 months.

The inspection report refers to one self-inflicted death in the period from November 2014 to May 2018. There were two further deaths during this period, one non self-inflicted and the other awaiting classification.

In June 2018, after the inspection period, there was another self-inflicted death.  

Rebecca Roberts, Head of Policy at INQUEST said:  "Despite the inspector’s assessment criteria determining that Styal is a ‘healthy’ prison, the reality of women’s experiences points to quite the opposite. The rates of self-harm have doubled since their previous inspection and distress remains endemic. 

"Imprisonment is a disproportionate and inappropriate response for women, many of whom have experienced abuse, violence, poverty, drug misuse and mental ill-health. 
 
"The government must act now to drastically reduce the number of women in prison and redirect resources to welfare, health, housing and social care. Diversion from prison towards treatment and support must be the priority.”

* Read the Inspector's report on HMP & YOI Styal here

* INQUEST is a charity providing expertise on state related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, lawyers, advice and support agencies, the media and parliamentarians. https://www.inquest.org.uk/

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