More than 60,000 self-harm incidents in jails over a year

30 January 2020, 11:03

The charity Inquest branded deaths in prisons a "national scandal"
The charity Inquest branded deaths in prisons a "national scandal". Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Self-harm incidents in prisons have hit a new record high, with the number of cases hitting more than 60,000 in a year,

There were 61,461 incidents in the 12 months to September, up 16% from the previous period, according to data released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

But the number of deaths behind bars have fallen by 8 per cent in the 12 months to December, down to 300 from 325 in the previous period. Of these, 84 were self-inflicted, a 9 per cent drop from 92 in the previous period.

Deborah Coles, Director of prison charity Inquest, said: “Officials and Ministers repeat the empty words that ‘lessons will be learned’. Yet the recommendations of coroners, the prison ombudsman and inspectorate are being systematically ignored. This is a national scandal."

The news comes as inspectors called for action over worrying numbers of deaths and an increase in incidents of self-harm at HMP Doncaster, a category B jail and young offender institution in south Yorkshire which holds around 1,100 male criminals of whom a quarter are convicted sex offenders.

As many as six prisoners die behind bars every week, research published earlier this month by campaigners analysing official statistics suggested.

The number of assaults has also fallen slightly, down 2 per cent in the year to September with 33,222.

Attacks on staff remained at the same level as the previous period, with 10,059 assaults recorded, according to the data.