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Prisoners: Suicide

Volume 490: debated on Monday 30 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of suicides in prisons in England and Wales were committed by (a) foreign national prisoners and (b) foreign national prisoners held beyond the expiration of their sentence in each of the last 10 years. (266596)

Any death in custody is a tragic event. The Government are committed to learning from such events and reducing the number of self-inflicted deaths in prison custody. The National Offender Management Service has a broad, integrated and evidence-based prisoner suicide prevention and self harm management strategy that seeks to reduce the distress of all those in prison. This encompasses a wide spectrum of prison and Department of Health work around such issues as mental health, substance misuse and resettlement. Any prisoner identified as at risk of suicide or self-harm is cared for using the assessment, care in custody and teamwork (ACCT) procedures.

The numbers and proportions of foreign national prisoner self-inflicted deaths are summarised in the following table.

Table: Self-inflicted deaths in prison custody (England and Wales) by nationality type

Percentage

EEA foreign national

Non EEA foreign national

UK national

Total

Foreign nationals

1999

4

3

84

91

7.7

2000

3

1

77

81

4.9

2001

2

3

68

73

6.8

2002

4

5

86

95

9.5

2003

2

6

86

94

8.5

2004

2

5

88

95

7.4

2005

1

5

72

78

7.7

2006

2

4

61

67

9.0

2007

6

18

68

92

26.1

2008

1

8

52

61

14.8

We do not specifically record whether foreign national prisoners died beyond their expiry date. However, of the 85 self-inflicted deaths among foreign nationals in the 10 years 1999 to 2008 there were four foreign national self-inflicted deaths of immigration detainees recorded in prison custody. Three of these were in 2003 and one in 2008.