WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
May 21 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Self-neglect and safeguarding issues contributing to prison deaths, new report finds

Self-neglect and safeguarding issues contributing to prison deaths, new report finds

HMP Wandsworth, D Wing. Pic: Andy Aitchison

The Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO)’s new report reveals that there has been an alarming increase in prison self-inflicted deaths, with cases raising safeguarding issues.

The PPO investigates deaths in prison, young people in detention, offenders under probation restrictions and those detained under immigration powers.

Between June 2022 and April 223, the PPO investigated 404 deaths, including 322 in prison, 34 more than the year before. Of those, the PPO investigated 92 self-inflicted deaths.

‘I am not only concerned by the increase in prison deaths we have seen, but also by the increased number of self-inflicted deaths. A key question in our investigations is whether there are underlying systemic issues that need to be brought to light,’ acting ombudsman Kimberley Bingham stated.

Mr K was a prisoner who was found hanged in his cell six weeks after arriving at prison. He was a ‘challenging’ prisoner, ‘refusing to engage’ with staff and spending long periods of time in his cell, neglecting self-care, and not always taking his medication. The PPO identified a lack of effective care planning to help address Mr K’s risk, and that the prison services did not have a self-neglect guidance to help staff support prisoners.

Chief inspector of prisons Charlie Taylor stated that 14 Victorian prisons were poorly designed, overcrowded and unable to provide proper accommodation for inmates. They include HMPs Wandsworth where Daniel Khalife recently escaped, Liverpool, Leeds and Bristol. Thousands of prisoners across the country are held in vermin-infested buildings with inadequate facilities and too few staff to provide support.

‘Wandsworth was built for around 1,000 prisoners and I think has 600 over; Pentonville was built for around 450 and I think there [are] about 1,200 prisoners in that jail. So there are an awful lot of jails that have got just far more prisoners than … they were originally designed for.

‘But also the infrastructure of some of those jails really struggles. You’re probably talking about 10% of jails that struggle to be fit for purpose,’ Taylor added.