Soaring levels of self-harm in prisons, figures show

Levels of self-harm behind bars have hit a new record high, with the number of incidents hitting more than 60,000 in a year, official figures show.

According to data released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), there were 61,461 incidents in the 12 months to September, up 16% from the previous period when there were 53,076.

This is the highest number of incidents since records began in 2009 (24,471).

The number of inmates self-harming also hit a record high after a 2% rise to 12,740 from 12,507 in the previous period.

This is the number of people behind bars since 2009, when records began and the number was 6,385.

This meant the number of self-harm incidents per individual rose by 14% from 4.2 to 4.8.

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A prison officer patrols the wings of HMP Manchester (Phil Noble/PA)

The news comes as inspectors called for action over worrying numbers of deaths and an increase in incidents of self-harm at HMP Doncaster, a category B jail and young offender institution in south Yorkshire which holds around 1,100 male criminals of whom a quarter are convicted sex offenders.

As many as six prisoners die behind bars every week, research published earlier this month by campaigners analysing official statistics suggested.

But according to the latest figures, the number of deaths in prison fell by 8% in the 12 months to December, down to 300 from 325 in the previous period.

Of these 84 were self-inflicted, a 9% drop from 92 in the previous period.

The number of assaults has also fallen slightly, down 2% in the year to September with 33,222.

Attacks on staff remained at the same level as the previous period, with 10,059 assaults recorded, according to the data.

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