Staff shortages responsible for rise in prison suicides

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Staff shortages and increases in the prison population are responsible for the rise in prison suicides according to the annual report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons released today, reports The Guardian.

Self-inflicted deaths in custody increased by 69 per cent in 2013-2014 compared to the previous year, to the highest levels in a decade. Whilst the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, said the decline in prison conditions was not attributable to a single cause, he did admit 'it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the conjunction of resource, population and policy pressures...was a very significant factor for the rapid deterioration in safety'.

The report comes in the same week as a Guardian investigation revealed that 125 prisoners have killed themselves in the last 20 months, with three suicides occurring on one day in September. 26 per cent of these suicides were by untried prisoners on remand.

Meanwhile, Tory MP Gavin Williamson revealed to The Guardian that prison staff who raised concerns over safety in custody were facing disciplinary action and even dsimissal. 

Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan has called for an inquiry into prison suicides.

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies runs UK Justice Policy Reviewan annual publication which tracks developments in the criminal justice system, including the prison population and staffing levels.