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Prisoners: Self-harm and Suicide

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL13358, tabled on 22 February 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce the incidence of (1) self-harm, and (2) suicide, in prisons.

Answered on

8 March 2021

We take every death in custody very seriously, and we are focussing our efforts to address the levels of self-harm and support those at risk of suicide. This includes tailored action for the women’s prison estate, where a rise has been seen in self-harm incidents since Covid-19 measures were introduced.

We are under no illusions about the impact of the measures which were put in place to protect lives during the Covid-19 pandemic and we have made prisoners’ safety and wellbeing our priority.

We have produced a range of products to support Governors in devising and implementing local safety and welfare plans designed to mitigate risks and promote wellbeing. Over 25,000 new and existing staff have received self-harm and suicide prevention training to help them better support offenders with complex needs. We’ve enabled continued family contact through more than 1,600 secure mobile phones and rolled out secure video call technology into every single prison in the male, female and youth estate. Each prisoner is also given £5 PIN credit per week. We have renewed our partnership with the Samaritans who are providing the excellent Listeners scheme, which trains selected prisoners to provide emotional support to their fellow prisoners. We are also delivering more in cell-activities such as distraction packs, supplementary food packs, and additional educational materials to mitigate the impact of isolation.

We have prioritised the roll-out of the revised version of the Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT) multi-disciplinary case management system used in prisons to support people at risk of suicide and self-harm in the women’s estate.

We will also be implementing the Offender Management in Custody model in the female estate in April. This will provide each woman with a dedicated key worker who will be able to better support them and identify concerns at an early stage so that women can receive the right support at the right time.

Every prisoner in the male closed estate should have a key worker allocated to them with vulnerable and priority group prisoners having a daily wellbeing check at the minimum and weekly key work sessions where resource and risk allows whilst in regime level 4.