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Volume 603: debated on Thursday 17 December 2015

I will today publish the Government’s response to the Harris review into self-inflicted deaths in custody of 18 to 24-year-olds.

The Government are grateful to Lord Harris of Haringey and the Harris review panel for their report on this important review.

We must never simply accept self-harm and self-inflicted deaths as an inevitable feature of prison life. Reducing the rates of violence, self-harm and deaths in custody is a priority for the National Offender Management Service. I have already made clear that our prison system needs urgent reform. I have also asked Charlie Taylor to review the current system of youth justice. We will be setting out more detail on our plans for reform in due course.

The Government’s response to the Harris review sets out the wide range of action we are taking to reduce self-harm and self-inflicted deaths in custody, including giving greater support to those with mental health vulnerabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system and improving the management of “safer cells” in prisons. We are also increasing the number of prison staff. Over the last year we recruited 2,340 prison officers, a net increase of 540.

The Harris review, and our response, will help to address the serious problems of self-harm and self-inflicted deaths as we develop our wider reforms to make prisons places of decency, hope and rehabilitation.

The response will be laid today and copies will be available in the Vote and Printed Paper Offices. The response will also be published online at: