Self-harm in prisons at record high

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper has called on the Government to scrap “pointless” short sentences and end prison overcrowding, as new figures reveal record high levels of self-harm in prisons.

The latest Safety in custody statistics, published by the Ministry of Justice, show that there were 61,461 self-harm incidents in prisons in England Wales in the year ending September 2019. That is the highest rate on record and a 16% increase since the previous 12-month period.

The self-harm rate in women’s prisons is almost 5 times higher than the rate in men’s prisons. There were 3,007 incidents per 1,000 women prisoners, compared to 633 per 1,000 men.

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said: “Our prisons are in crisis. It is a huge relief that rates of violence and deaths in prison appear to have stopped rising, but they are still far, far too high.

“Most concerning is the large and growing number of self-harm incidents, especially in women’s prisons.

“Because of overcrowding and understaffing, prisoners spend far too much time locked in their cells, with a lack of support or purposeful activity. To make matters worse, the Government is now introducing new laws that its own assessment says could well lead to more violence and self-harm in prisons.

“Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to turn prisons into places of rehabilitation by ending overcrowding, including by scrapping pointless short sentences that cause overcrowding and actually increase reoffending.”

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