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UK: Safety in Custody Statistics and Deaths of Offenders in the Community

25th October 2018

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has released two reports on Safety in Custody Statistics and Deaths of Offenders in the Community for England and Wales. The first report outlines statistics on deaths in prison custody, self-harm incidents, and assaults on prisoners, and staff, while the second discusses deaths of offenders while under supervision or court orders in the community. Key findings of the reports are outlined below.

There were 325 deaths in prison custody in the 12 months to September 2018. This is an increase of 8% on the previous year’s figure of 300. Of this number, 87 were classed as self-inflicted, up 12% from the previous year, 5 were apparent homicides, up from 3 the previous year, and 165 deaths were due to natural causes, a decrease of 16% from the previous year. A total of 68 deaths were recorded as “other”, the majority of which are awaiting further information prior to being classified.

In the 12 months to June 2018 there were 49,565 (a rate of 585 per 1,000) incidents of self-harm recorded in the prison system, up 20% from the previous year. The number of incidents requiring hospital attendance increased by 11% to 3,151. The number of prisoners who self-harmed was 12,142, an increase of 10% of the previous 12 months. These figures are new record highs in incidents reported by the MoJ. Self-harm statistics differed considerably by gender. The rate of self-harm incidents in male prison establishments was 498 per 1,000, compared with a rate of 2,366 per 1,000 in female establishments.

There were 32,559 (a rate of 384 per 1,000) incidents of assault in prisons in the 12 months to June 2018, up 20% from the previous 12 months, and a new record high. Of these 3,951 were classified as serious assaults, up 7% from the previous year. There were 22,448 incidents of prisoner-on-prisoner assault, up 20% from the previous year, and 9,485 assaults on staff, up 27% from the previous year. There has been a change in how incidents involving staff are identified within the prison system, which may have contributed to an increase in the recording of incidents. There were 3,063 incidents of serious prisoner-on-prisoner assault, up 5% on the previous year, and 947 incidents of serious assault on staff, up 19% on the previous 12 month period.

There were 955 deaths of offenders in the community in the year 2017/2018, an increase of 17% from the previous year and the highest number of reported deaths since the beginning of the time series in 2010/2011. The number of people who died while under court orders in the community increased by 40% to 533, while the number who died in the community while on post release supervision decreased by 8% to 367.

There were 300 death due to natural causes in the year 2017/2018, an increase of 10% on the previous year. This accounted for almost one-third (300) of all deaths in the community. There was an increase of 14% (285) in self-inflicted deaths, which accounted for 30% of all deaths. There has also been an increase in the proportion of deaths where the apparent cause was reported as “unclassified”.

The reports on Safety in Custody Statistics and Deaths of Offenders in the Community for England and Wales are available on the Ministry of Justice website. 

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