Worrying levels of self harm at Preston Prison

Cases of self-harm have hit a record high among inmates at Preston Prison.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 6:00 am
Ministry of Justice data shows there were 540 self-harm incidents recorded at HMP Preston in the 12 months to September 2019

The Prison Reform Trust says a national failure to ensure humane conditions for prisoners and deal with their mental health problems is being “paid for in human misery and distress”.

Ministry of Justice data shows there were ​540 self-harm incidents recorded at HMP Preston in the 12 months to September 2019 – the highest figure since ​comparable records began in 2005. Of those, ​at least 17 required hospital treatment.

​Across prisons in England and Wales, self-harm incidents hit a record high of 61,500 over the same period.

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Overall, 12,740 prisoners were recorded self-harming, also a record high.

Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the MoJ figures revealed a “hidden crisis” of ever-rising levels of prisoner self-harm.

"A failure to ensure decent and humane conditions, as well as respond effectively to the large proportion of people in prison with serious mental health problems, is being paid for in human misery and distress,” he said.

"The Government needs a plan to restore purpose and hope to our prisons. Sending more people to prison longer will make matters worse."

Juliet Lyon, chairman of the Independent Panel on Deaths in Custody, said the Government had a "duty to take active steps to protect life".

She added: "Action must be taken now to improve mental healthcare before lives begin to fall apart."

The MoJ data also showed 300 people died in prison custody in England and Wales in 2019 – an eight per cent drop from the previous year.

Of those, 84 were self-inflicted, down from 92 a year earlier.

Prisons Minister Lucy Frazer said: "While self-harm remains a major cause for concern, I want to thank our hardworking prison staff for their efforts in reducing violence on the wings.

"We know there is much more to do, which is why the Government is investing £2.75bn to make our jails safer - creating 10,000 additional places and stepping up security to cut crime behind bars."