Self-harm incidents in prisons jump to record high

The number of incidents of self-harm in jails in England and Wales jumped 14% last year to the highest recorded figure.

In the year to December, there were 63,328 reported incidents of self-harm in prisons, according to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) data.

This is up 14% on the previous 12 months (55,615) and the highest figure on record since data was documented in 2009 (24,184). The lowest figure recorded so far was 23,158 in 2012.

But quarterly figures from the three months to December show the number of incidents started to decrease slightly towards the end of the year.

The number of prisoners self-harming also rose by 3% last year, to the highest recorded figure of 12,977, up from 12,573 in 2018 and 6,448 in 2009.

The rate of incidents per prisoner rose by 11%, from 4.4 in the previous 12 months to 4.9 last year, the MoJ figures showed.

This was also the highest recorded figure since 2009 (3.8) after a dip to 3.3 in 2013.

A small number of inmates who frequently self-harm “have a disproportionate impact on this figure”, the report noted, adding: “The majority of those who self-harm in prison do so only once.”

The number of incidents which meant a prisoner needed to go to hospital rose by 8% from 3,215 to 3,481 last year. Also a record high from 2009 when 1,304 attendances were recorded.

But the number began to fall again slightly in the latest quarter, the report added.

In the year to March, the number of deaths in prison custody fell by 10% from 317 to 286.

Of these, 80 deaths were “self-inflicted”, a decrease of 8% from 87 in the previous period.