Latest prison safety figures still shocking

Worst figures on record

At the end of last month (27 April 2017) the Ministry of Justice and Office of National Statistics published the latest Safety in Custody Statistics Bulletin, covering deaths in prison custody up to March 2017 and assaults and self-harm to December 2016.

The key findings continue to be shocking, although there is a slight downward dip in the number of assaults in the last quarter:


The number and rate of deaths for the most recent year (up to March 2017) are the second highest recorded. Deaths in the most recent quarter are down from the 12 months ending December 2016 but are still the fourth highest on record.


The number of self-harm incidents and those requiring hospital attendance are both the highest recorded. In the most recent quarter, from October to December 2016, self-harm levels were the highest on record, with 10,246 incidents of self-harm and 734 incidents requiring hospital attendance.


The most recent quarter saw a decrease in all types of assaults compared to the three-month period from July to September 2016, when all types of assaults were at their highest levels on record. Total assaults fell by 4% across this period while prisoner-on-prisoner and assaults on staff fell by 5%. This is the first quarter that total assaults have decreased since October to December 2014, but should be considered with caution due to potential seasonal effects.


The speed at which prison safety has deteriorated is a cause for major concern with the annual numbers of deaths, suicides, incidents of self-harm and assaults all the highest on record.

It is this situation which led to parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights to call on the next government to introduce legislation setting a minimum ration of prison officers to prisoners in every establishment.

We shall to wait until after the election to see whether the new government acts on this recommendation.



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