EIGHTY-NINE people took their own lives in prisons during 2015 as the suicide rate behind bars remained at an alarmingly high level, figures seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform revealed yesterday.
A further eight prisoners were killed in apparent homicides during 2015 – the highest number in a single year since current recording practices began in 1978. Figures published by the Ministry of Justice reveal that, in total, 257 people died in prisons in England and Wales last year.
Yesterday’s report also shows that the number of deaths by suicide in 2014 has been revised upwards from 86 to 89, raising concerns that the total in 2015 could yet rise further as unclassified deaths are subject to further investigation.
Deaths by suicide have risen by 46 per cent in the last three years, at a time when prisons across England and Wales have struggled to cope with growing numbers of prisoners, chronic overcrowding and deep staff cuts.
Also there were 30,706 reported incidents of self-injury in prisons during the 12 months to the end of September 2015 – a 24 per cent rise on the previous year, for male prisoners the increase in self-harm was a huge 63 per cent.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: ‘We cannot go on cramming more people into jails without any thought for the consequences.’