One in five deaths in custody are self-inflicted, according to new research that reveals the higher mortality rate for those detained in custody compared to the general population. The highest rate was in psychiatric hospitals, which was recorded at three times higher than that of prisons.
The report by the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody collects data on deaths in custody between 2016 and 2019 in settings such as prisons, detention under the Mental Health Act, in police custody as well as in Immigration Removal Centres. Of total deaths, 57% took place in prisons. One in five were self-inflicted, particularly among younger age groups and 2% of all deaths were as a result of restraint. In some cases, deaths remained uncategorised due to insufficient information. This was often corrected in later years following investigation.
The IAPDC said that it was ‘unacceptable’ there were significant gaps in data on the ethnicity of people detained under the Mental Health Act. Half of women detained under the Act, who died in 2019, did not have their ethnicity recorded. This lack of data has the ‘potential to obscure the underlying pattern of deaths by ethnicity’, the watchdog warned.
The amount of total deaths per year did not change significantly between 2016 and 2019 with an average of 565 deaths a year.