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Prisoners: Suicide

Volume 475: debated on Friday 16 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many women committed suicide while in prison and (a) on and (b) not on suicide watch in each of the last 10 years; (205525)

(2) how many men aged 18 to 25 years committed suicide while in prison and (a) on and (b) not on suicide watch in each of the last 10 years;

(3) how many men committed suicide while in prison and (a) on and (b) not on suicide watch in each of the last 10 years;

(4) how many people committed suicide in prison while (a) on and (b) not on suicide watch in each of the last 10 years;

(5) how many people committed suicide in custody in each of the last 10 years;

(6) how many women aged 18 to 25 years committed suicide while in prison and (a) on and (b) not on suicide watch in each of the last 10 years.

The term ‘suicide watch’ is not employed in National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

However, any prisoner identified as at risk of suicide or self-harm will be cared for using the Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT) procedures. ACCT is the prisoner-centred flexible care-planning system introduced across the prisons estate in partnership with the Department of health during 2005-07 to replace the old F2052SH system. All at-risk prisoners are subject to a minimum required frequency of staff supervision (conversations and observations) set by an individual case review. Such frequency can vary widely between different at-risk prisoners depending on the level of risk and the needs of the distressed individual.

The following tables provide a response to the questions based on the use of ACCT or F2052SH at-risk care plans.

Table 1: Annual numbers of self-inflicted deaths1 in prison between 1998 and 2007 with and without at-risk care plans

Not on care plans

On care plans

Total self-inflicted deaths1

1998

57

26

83

1999

75

16

91

2000

57

24

81

2001

51

22

73

2002

72

23

95

2003

67

27

94

2004

76

19

95

2005

53

25

78

2006

51

16

67

2007

69

23

92

Table 2: Annual numbers of self-inflicted deaths1 in prison between 1998 and 2007 with and without at-risk care plans, split by age and gender

Male

Female

Male and female

Not on care plan

On care plan

Not on care plan

On care plan

Total not on care plan

Total on care plan

18 to 25 years

1998

14

7

0

0

14

7

1999

26

2

1

1

27

3

2000

15

8

4

2

19

10

2001

13

3

1

3

14

6

2002

22

2

3

0

25

2

2003

16

4

3

5

19

9

2004

11

6

3

1

14

7

2005

17

4

0

1

17

5

2006

4

1

1

0

5

1

2007

15

5

1

1

16

6

>25 years

1998

41

15

0

3

41

18

1999

45

11

2

1

47

12

2000

34

13

1

1

35

14

2001

35

13

1

1

36

14

2002

43

17

3

3

46

20

2003

46

14

2

4

48

18

2004

56

9

6

3

62

12

2005

34

17

1

2

35

19

2006

46

13

0

2

46

15

2007

48

15

4

2

52

17

1 NOMS definition of prisoner 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.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people from Leicester committed suicide while in prison and (a) on and (b) not on suicide watch in each of the last 10 years. (205562)

The location of where prisoners originate from is not recorded centrally. To verify home address information (which would not necessarily reflect where the prisoner was from and in some cases would be ‘no fixed abode’) would involve contacting each individual prison and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what procedures are in place to prevent suicide in prisons. (205563)

The National Offender Management Service has a prisoner suicide prevention strategy that seeks to reduce the distress of all who live and work in prisons. This encompasses a wide spectrum of prison and Department of Health work around such issues as mental health, drugs, resettlement, leadership and training.

A revised strategy was published in October 2007. This builds on several years of learning from the experiences of prisoners, staff, investigators, inspectors and others, and aims to embed improved suicide prevention and self-harm management methods of working in all areas of prison life. The strategy further develops cross-agency information flows, and reflects long-standing areas of safer custody work such as Listener and Insider peer supporters, local Suicide Prevention Co-ordinators and working with outside organisations.

It also incorporates Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT), the care-planning system for prisoners at-risk of suicide or self-harm, introduced across the prisons estate in partnership with the Department of Health during 2005-07. The key benefits of ACCT include a faster first response, engagement with the prisoner, and the provision of flexible, individual and accountable care. It is supported by improved staff training in assessing and understanding at-risk prisoners.