HC Deb 30 January 1995 vol 253 cc506-7W
Mrs. Roche

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give figures for the numbers of self-inflicted injuries in Her Majesty's prisons, according to prison category, in(a) 1979, (b) 1985 and (c) the last year for which figures are available.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Responsibility for this mater has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mrs. Barbara Roche, dated 30 January 1995: The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the number of self inflicted injuries during 1979, 1985 and the most recent available year. In 1979 a total of 1,906 incidents of deliberate self injury were recorded. In 1984 reporting periods changed from calendar to financial years and therefore we do not have a specific figure for 1985. During the year 1985–86 a total of 1,567 incidents of deliberate self injury were recorded. The most recent available year 1993–94 had 4,187. Incidents of deliberate self injury are normally categorised as those with apparent suicidal intent and other less serious incidents. These are summarised in Table 1.

Table 1: Number of incidents of deliberate self injury
Number of incidents of deliberate self injury
Year With apparent suicidal intent Other less serious incidents Total
1979 300 1,606 1,906
1985–86 256 1,311 1,567
1993–94 825 3,362 4,187

The significantly higher figures for 1993–94 result from the Prison Service introducing a revised strategy for caring for potentially suicidal prisoners in April 1994. This was designed to enable a high quality of care to be given to prisoners who are identified as being at possible risk of self-harm. It reflected a decision to move away from a primarily medical model of suicide prevention towards a more integrated approach which emphasises the responsibility of the whole of the prison community for the care of those in distress. Included amongst the new procedures was a system for identifying those at risk of self-harm by the use of a new form (F2052SH), which was piloted in a number of establishments during 1993. The form acts as a basis for a team work, case-conference approach to dealing with those at risk. The new system encourages staff to consider the most appropriate location for potentially suicidal prisoners, be that within the Health Care Centre or on the residential unit, with appropriate levels of supervision and support in either case. It is possible that the introduction of the new form together with the higher profile which the strategy affords to identification of and support for potentially suicidal prisoners has affected recording procedures. Staff may have become more disposed to ascribe suicidal intent or alternatively have become more attentive to signs of self-injurious behaviour. Information on deliberate self injuries by prison type is not available for 1979 or 1985–86. Table 2 shows the breakdown for 1993–94.

Table 2: Number of incidents of deliberate self-harm by prison type for 1993–94
Prison type Number of incidents 1per cent. of CAN
Category D Trainer 9 0.3
Category C Trainer 295 2.5
Category B Trainer 120 3.2
Dispersal 116 4.4
Young Offenders (Male) 907 12.0
Local 1,750 12.5
Female 990 66.4
1 Percentage CNA refers to the number of incidents of deliberate self injury expressed as a percentage of certified normal accommodation (CNA).