Prison Safety Crisis Continues – latest deaths, assaults and self harm figures show increases in all four key areas

Safety in Custody Statistics: Deaths in Prison Custody to March 2019, Assaults and Self-harm to December 2018

New figures released this morning show that once again the levels of violence and self-harm in our prisons are unacceptably high – and show no sign of reducing.

The latest figures show increases across all of the key categories.

Number of deaths have increased compared to the previous 12 month period. In the 12 months to March 2019, there were 317 deaths in prison custody, up 18 from the previous year. Of these, 87 deaths were self-inflicted, up 14 from the previous year.

Self-harm incidents rose to 55,598 in 2018, a new record high, but decreased in the latest quarter. Self-harm incidents reached a record high of 55,598 incidents in 2018, a 25% increase from 2017. The number of incidents between October and December decreased by 7% to 14,313 since the previous quarter.  

Incidents requiring hospital attendance rose to a record high of 3,214 in 2018, although the proportion of incidents requiring hospital attendance has decreased. The number of self-harm incidents requiring hospital attendance increased by 5% on the previous year to 3,214 while the proportion of incidents that required hospital attendance decreased by 1.1 percentage point to 5.8%.

Assault incidents increased to 34,223, a record high level in 2018, but decreased in the latest quarter. Annual assault incidents reached a record high of 34,223 incidents in 2018, a 16% increase from 2017. Assaults in the October to December 2018 quarter decreased to 8,150, a decrease of 11% from the previous quarter, but a 5% increase on the same quarter of the previous year.

The proportion of assaults on staff continue to rise. The proportion of assaults on staff increased to 30% of all incidents in 2018, an increase from 29% in 2017, and a steady increase from 20% between 2008 and 2011. The proportion of assaults on staff (38%) in female establishments in 2018 was higher than in male establishments (29%).

Of the 34,223 assault incidents in 2018, 3,918 (11%) were serious. In the 12 months to December 2018, there were 3,918 serious assault incidents, up 2% from the previous year. Serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults decreased by 1% since the previous year (to 2,987), and serious assaults on staff increased by 15% (to 995) in the same period. Serious assaults (by 4%), serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults (by 5%), and serious assaults on staff decreased in the last quarter (by 4%).

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook said the latest prison safety figures show ‘a worrying increase yet again’

Mr Leech said: “These are truly shocking figures yet again, the resignation of the Prisons Minister who promised to go unless he reduced these numbers now seems certain.”

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