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Prisoners: Suicide

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many suicides within (a) adult prisons and (b) young offender institutions in (i) 2006 and (ii) 2007 took place within the first seven days of custody; and how many prisoners who committed suicide in their first seven days in custody had on one or more of those seven days been housed in police or court cells. (203195)

There were six self-inflicted deaths1 in adult prisons2 within the first seven days of prison custody in 2006 and 10 in 2007. There was also one self-inflicted death of an adult prisoner in each of 2006 and 2007 in prisoner escort custody prior to arrival in prison. There were no such deaths in young offender institutions in either 2006 or 2007.

Information regarding time spent in court or police custody prior to first reception in prison is not held centrally.

1 The Prison Service definition of self-inflicted deaths is broader than the legal definition of suicide and includes all deaths where it appears that a prisoner has acted specifically to take their own life. This inclusive approach is used in part because inquest verdicts are often not available for some years after a death (some 20 per cent. of these deaths will not receive a suicide or open verdict at inquest). Annual numbers may change slightly from time-to-time as inquest verdicts and other information become available.

2 Includes deaths where prisoner transferred to hospital following initial incident.