Latest prison safety figures to be published

Prisons in England and Wales will fall under the spotlight again on Thursday as new jail safety figures are published.

Previous quarterly statistics have repeatedly laid bare surging levels of violence behind bars.

Data released by the Ministry of Justice will provide the latest numbers on deaths, self-harm and assaults in prisons.

The last report showed year-on-year rises across all the main indicators.

Self-harm reached a record high of 40,161 incidents last year, while there were 113 self-inflicted deaths in the 12 months to March - an increase of 11%.

Assaults on staff were up by 38% to 6,844 in 2016 - equivalent to 18 every day.

Campaigners and watchdogs have issued a catalogue of warnings about the state of prisons as safety measures have deteriorated.

Last week, Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, said staffing levels in many establishments are too low to maintain order and described the conditions some inmates are held in as "squalid, dirty and disgraceful".

Ministers have launched a recruitment drive to add 2,500 frontline officers and put in place new measures to tackle the availability of mobile phones and drugs in jails as part of a reform drive.

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