Record self-inflicted deaths in prisons

27 January 2017
What was claimed

A record number of people killed themselves in English and Welsh prisons in 2016.

Our verdict

That’s correct, going back to 1978. The rate of self-inflicted deaths per 1,000 prisoners is also close to a record high.

“A record number of people killed themselves in prisons in England and Wales in 2016, figures show.”

BBC News, 26 January 2017

That’s correct.

Self-inflicted deaths in prisons are at a “record high”, according to the Ministry of Justice. 

Last year 354 people died in prison, a 38% increase compared to 2015, according to provisional statistics. 119 of these deaths were self-inflicted (the prison service doesn’t assume whether or not someone intended to take their own life).

That’s the first year there have been more than 100 such deaths in custody since records began in 1978.

But the prison population has also increased over the years, almost doubling between 1990 and 2015. We can look at the rate of self-inflicted deaths as well as the absolute numbers.

For every 1,000 prisoners, 1.4 ended their own life, up from 1.1 in 2015. That’s also around the highest on record.

See more in our article on the state of prisons in England and Wales.

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