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Young Offender Institutions: Suicide

Volume 495: debated on Wednesday 1 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what percentage of (a) 12, (b) 13, (c) 14, (d) 15, (e) 16, (f) 17, (g) 18 and (h) 19 year-olds in each young offenders institution committed suicide in each of the last five years. (282919)

Any death in prison custody is a tragic event. The Government, Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management Service, (NOMS) is committed to learning from such events and reducing the number of self-inflicted deaths in prison custody. NOMS 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. ACCT is the prisoner-centred flexible care-planning system introduced across the prisons estate in partnership with the Department of Health during 2005-07.

The National Offender Management Service holds two groups of offender within its young offender estate. These are young people (15 to 17-year-olds) and young adults (18 to 20-year-olds). Under-15s are not held in Young Offender Institutions (YOIs).

The following table details the numbers of self-inflicted deaths in YOIs in each of the last five years, by age as requested.

Age

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Lancaster Farms

15

1

Lancaster Farms

16

1

Hindley

17

1

Aylesbury

18

1

Portland

18

1

Reading

18

3

1

Stoke Heath

18

1

Brinsford

19

1

1

Glen Parva

19

2

1

Reading

19

1

Rochester

19

1

Total

3

9

0

4

1

It is not possible to give the percentages that these deaths represent, for each age, in each establishment and for each year. Young people and young adults account for some 2.6 per cent. and 10.5 per cent. of all prisoners respectively. The 17 deaths detailed above constitute 0.2 per cent. of under-21s.

Under-18s are also held in secure training centres and secure children’s homes. There have been two self-inflicted deaths in Secure Training Centres and Secure Children’s Homes, both involving 14-year-old boys. One was the death of Adam Rickwood in Hassockfield STC in August 2004 and the other was the death of Wayne Cann at Hillside Secure Children’s Home in January 1998.

STCs and SCHs have stringent screening processes in place to assess young people’s risk of suicide and self-harm (SASH) taking into account vulnerability, safeguarding and risk assessments. Young people are assessed upon admission and regularly thereafter by the relevant staff as part of their review process. Providers have robust systems to record young people’s risk assessments and follow operational policies for managing those who are at risk of self-harm. Establishments regularly provide data to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) on all incidents of self-harm, and this information is regularly reviewed as part of the YJB’s quality assurance monitoring arrangements. Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards also play a key role in working together with establishments in helping address the safeguarding needs of all young people in secure settings.