HC Deb 26 April 2002 vol 384 cc479-80W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prisoners who have attempted suicide died whilst being transferred to hospital in the last three years; and if he will make a statement; [48672]

(2) how many people have (a) committed and (b) attempted suicide whilst in prison in the last five years; how many of these were on a life sentence; how many were in for more than 10 years; and if he will make a statement. [48549]

Beverley Hughes

The total number of self-inflicted prisoner deaths and reported incidents of self-harm in establishments in England and Wales are set out in the given tables.

Information relating to the number of prisoners who have died whilst being transferred from prison establishment to hospital is not kept separately.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Blunkett), the Director General of the Prison Service (Martin Narey) and I take every self-inflicted death and incident of self-harm in prison custody very seriously.

The Prison Service's new three-year suicide prevention strategy commenced in April 2001 and aims to make prisons safer for all who live and work there. There is an early focus on pilots in five establishments with a range of changes being made, including physical improvements to reception and induction areas, and more first night support centres and safer cells. Suicide Prevention Co-ordinators have been trained and appointed at 30 high-risk prisons, and revised risk assessment tools are being devised.

The Prison Service's internal review into the prevention of suicides and self-harm found that those serving life sentences are at higher risk than those with determinate sentences. Research to find out at what stage in their period of custody life sentenced prisoners are most at risk, and how the self-inflicted deaths of life-sentenced prisoners differ to those in other sentence categories, is now being planned.

1. Self-inflicted deaths at establishments in England and Wales 1998–2002

Year Number of Deaths Lifer Prisoners Already served 10 years or more
1998 82 8 0
1999 91 4 1
2000 81 3 0
2001 72 7 1
2002* 19 0 0
Total 345 22 2

2. Self-harm incidents at establishments in England and Wales 1998–2002

Year Number of Incidents
1998 3,207
1999 3,721
2000 5,227
2001 7,486
2002* 2,119
Total 21,760
* up to and including 08/04/02


1. Not all self-inflicted deaths result in an inquest verdict of suicide.

2. Data in above table include all attempted suicides. Self-harm incidents are not categorised by intent for data collection purposes or by prisoner status.

3. Self-harm incidents do not equate to numbers of prisoners as an individual prisoner may self-harm more than once.