Prison suicide and homicide

News release

Monday 20 January 2014

Urgent call for action as prison suicides soar and homicide rate reaches highest level for 15 years

The Howard League for Penal Reform today called for urgent action after figures for 2013 showed a sharp rise in the number of suspected murders and self-inflicted deaths behind bars.

Data compiled by the charity reveals that there were four alleged homicides in prisons in England and Wales – the most in a calendar year since 1998.

In total, 199 deaths were reported during 2013, of which 70 were self-inflicted – the highest rate in six years.

More than 100 prisoners died of natural causes, and a further 22 deaths are yet to be classified by prison authorities.

The statistics are based on notifications from the Ministry of Justice, which records deaths in custody.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Each death in custody is a tragedy and almost all of them are preventable.

“The responsibility for an increase in the number of people who take their own lives in prison lies squarely with those who advocate putting behind bars more and more people who do not need to be there.

“This is the consequence of a policy that squanders a scarce resource, meaning that these institutions cannot keep people safe.”

The four prisons where homicides were allegedly committed in 2013 are Hewell, near Redditch, Worcestershire; Long Lartin, near Evesham, Worcestershire; Lincoln, Lincolnshire; and Lindholme, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

Five self-inflicted deaths were recorded at Wormwood Scrubs in London, and there were four at Woodhill, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

A further five prisons each recorded three self-inflicted deaths during the year. They were Hewell; Birmingham; Dovegate, near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire; Norwich, Norfolk; and Chelmsford, Essex.

Professor David Wilson, Vice Chair of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University and a former prison governor, said: “This is the highest number of alleged murders since 1998 and it reflects deep structural problems about control and order inside our jails – not our most high-security jails, but every prison in which we currently lock people up.

“The prison service has a duty of care to prisoners that this murder rate suggests it cannot deliver.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The statistics are based on notifications received by the Howard League for Penal Reform from the Ministry of Justice, which records deaths in custody.
  3. For detailed analysis of deaths in custody, read Wilson, David (2005) Death at the Hands of the State. London: The Howard League for Penal Reform.
  4. Deaths in custody data for 2013, broken down by prison, is shown in the table below. A prison’s ‘In Use CNA’ (Certified Normal Accommodation) is the prison service’s own measure of how many prisoners can be held in decent and safe accommodation.

Prison

Total deaths

Natural

Self inflicted

Not classified

Homicide

In Use CNA

Population

Altcourse

4

2

2

0

0

794

1,033

Ashfield

0

0

0

0

0

408

400

Askham Grange

0

0

0

0

0

150

128

Aylesbury

0

0

0

0

0

411

444

Bedford

1

0

1

0

0

322

506

Belmarsh

3

0

2

1

0

781

855

Birmingham

4

1

3

0

0

1,093

1,450

Blantyre House

1

0

1

0

0

122

122

Blundeston

1

0

0

1

0

481

325

Brinsford

0

0

0

0

0

545

577

Bristol

1

0

1

0

0

427

639

Brixton

1

1

0

0

0

530

798

Bronzefield

1

1

0

0

0

527

527

Buckley Hall

0

0

0

0

0

410

445

Bullingdon

3

1

2

0

0

879

1,114

Bure

1

1

0

0

0

604

624

Cardiff

2

1

1

0

0

539

804

Channings Wood

4

4

0

0

0

698

731

Chelmsford

3

0

3

0

0

462

578

Coldingley

1

0

0

1

0

493

513

Cookham Wood

0

0

0

0

0

143

143

Dartmoor

0

0

0

0

0

642

659

Deerbolt

0

0

0

0

0

513

513

Doncaster

0

0

0

0

0

738

1,145

Dorchester

2

1

0

1

0

152

122

Dovegate

3

0

3

0

0

1,064

1,060

Downview

2

1

1

0

0

355

80

Drake Hall

0

0

0

0

0

315

315

Durham

4**

1

2

1**

0

592

990

East Sutton Park

0

0

0

0

0

98

100

Eastwood Park

1

0

0

1

0

410

363

Elmley

2

0

2

0

0

943

1,252

Erlestoke

0

0

0

0

0

494

488

Everthorpe

0

0

0

0

0

615

689

Exeter

1

1

0

0

0

326

561

Featherstone

2

1

0

1

0

671

687

Feltham

0

0

0

0

0

762

762

Ford

0

0

0

0

0

521

521

Forest Bank

1

0

1

0

0

1,064

1,364

Foston Hall

0

0

0

0

0

290

310

Frankland

3

2

0

1

0

859

808

Full Sutton

4

4

0

0

0

604

616

Garth

0

0

0

0

0

811

750

Gartree

1

1

0

0

0

708

708

Glen Parva

2

0

2

0

0

637

808

Gloucester

1

0

1

0

0

225

300

Grendon

0

0

0

0

0

240

240

Guys Marsh

0

0

0

0

0

518

579

Haverigg

0

0

0

0

0

622

644

Hewell

5

0

3

1

1

1,003

1,271

High Down

5

4

1

0

0

999

1,103

Highpoint

3

2

1

0

0

1,299

1,325

Hindley

0

0

0

0

0

582

438

Hollesley Bay

0

0

0

0

0

421

421

Holloway

0

0

0

0

0

540

591

Holme House

8

5

2

1

0

1,034

1,210

Hull

1

1

0

0

0

552

762

Huntercombe

0

0

0

0

0

370

430

Isis

0

0

0

0

0

478

622

Isle of Wight

10

9

1

0

0

1,056

1,139

Kennet

0

0

0

0

0

175

342

Kingston

0

0

0

0

0

204

199

Kirkham

1

1

0

0

0

632

630

Kirklevington Grange

0

0

0

0

0

283

283

Lancaster Farms

0

0

0

0

0

481

531

Leeds

2

2

0

0

0

826

1,212

Leicester

1

1

0

0

0

214

408

Lewes

1

0

0

1

0

627

742

Leyhill

3

3

0

0

0

527

527

Lincoln

3*

1

1

0

1*

408

727

Lindholme

1*

0

0

0

1*

1,048

1,005

Littlehey

0

0

0

0

0

1,140

1,146

Liverpool

4

3

1

0

0

1,173

1,442

Long Lartin

5*

2

1

1

1*

629

622

Low Newton

1

0

1

0

0

314

329

Lowdham Grange

1

0

0

1

0

900

888

Maidstone

3

2

1

0

0

565

600

Manchester

1

0

1

0

0

965

1,286

Moorland

2

2

0

0

0

1,209

1,272

Mount

1

0

1

0

0

748

770

New Hall

1

0

0

1

0

395

425

North Sea Camp

1

1

0

0

0

420

420

Northallerton

0

0

0

0

0

146

75

Northumberland

3

1

1

1

0

1,354

1,348

Norwich

7

4

3

0

0

627

769

Nottingham

3

0

1

2

0

723

1,100

Oakwood

0

0

0

0

0

1,605

1,603

Onley

0

0

0

0

0

742

682

Parc

7

7

0

0

0

1,170

1,336

Pentonville

1

0

1

0

0

915

1,310

Peterborough (men)

1

0

1

0

0

624

624

Peterborough (women)

0

0

0

0

0

360

359

Portland

1

0

1

0

0

464

620

Preston

5

4

1

0

0

456

743

Ranby

3

0

2

1

0

893

1,098

Reading

0

0

0

0

0

190

135

Risley

3

3

0

0

0

1,050

1,095

Rochester

0

0

0

0

0

802

662

Rye Hill

0

0

0

0

0

600

625

Send

0

0

0

0

0

282

281

Spring Hill

1

0

1

0

0

314

300

Stafford

1

1

0

0

0

741

741

Standford Hill

0

0

0

0

0

464

464

Stocken

1

0

0

1

0

768

843

Stoke Heath

1

0

1

0

0

650

642

Styal

0

0

0

0

0

454

460

Sudbury

1

0

0

1

0

581

581

Swaleside

2

1

0

1

0

1,112

1,112

Swansea

0

0

0

0

0

248

445

Swinfen Hall

0

0

0

0

0

604

594

Thameside

2

1

1

0

0

600

900

Thorn Cross

0

0

0

0

0

322

321

Usk/Prescoed

2

2

0

0

0

378

503

Verne

0

0

0

0

0

580

0

Wakefield

5

5

0

0

0

751

749

Wandsworth

0

0

0

0

0

974

1,284

Warren Hill

0

0

0

0

0

244

192

Wayland

0

0

0

0

0

958

1,011

Wealstun

1

0

1

0

0

810

817

Werrington

0

0

0

0

0

160

160

Wetherby

0

0

0

0

0

396

276

Whatton

3

3

0

0

0

779

841

Whitemoor

1

0

1

0

0

473

458

Winchester

4

3

0

1

0

499

685

Wolds

0

0

0

0

0

320

360

Woodhill

5

1

4

0

0

660

819

Wormwood Scrubs

6

1

5

0

0

1,170

1,279

Wymott

4

3

2

0

0

1,102

1,111

TOTAL

199*

103

70

22**

4*

*Total includes suspected homicides which have been reported by the media but are yet to be confirmed by the National Offender Management Service.

**Total includes a death at Durham prison that has been reported by the media but is yet to be confirmed by NOMS.

In addition to the 199 deaths listed above, the Howard League is aware of the self-inflicted death of a prisoner who was ‘unlawfully at large’ from Ford prison in December 2013.

Contact

Rob Preece
Press Officer
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955
Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org
ISDN line available on 020 7923 4196 - uses a G722 system

For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094.