Prisons in Parliament

Government to learn lessons from rising tide of suicides, by spending less investigating them 


Exeter prison. Home to the highest number of deaths in 2015. Image source: Bazzadarambler

Prisons in Parliament brings you up-to-date on the last week of politics and prisons. What’s been said? And by whom? Get it all here.

Self inflicted deaths in custody: Are we learning lessons?

Luciana Berger, MP, asked when the Secretary of State’s investigation into self-inflicted deaths in prisons would be published.

Justice Minister, Sam Gyimah, didn’t provide a date but assured her that all deaths are meticulously investigated.  “We carefully study the details of all deaths in custody to determine whether there are any patterns, or lessons to be learned, to further our understanding of why these tragic events happen” he said.

Burger also asked how much had been spent on investigations into self-inflicted deaths, each year since 2010.

Spending on investigations into self-inflicted deaths

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Table includes salary costs of managers, investigators, and administrative staff including interview transcribers, family liaison officers and fees for call-off investigators. It also includes travel and incidental expenses.

In context 

Spending on such investigations has decreased from £1,444,382 in 2010 to £1278,552 in 2015.

Have lessons been learnt?

The number of self inflicted deaths has risen sharply during that time. The latest figures show that 119 prisoners, a record number, killed themselves whilst in custody in England and Wales last year. Double the number in 2012. 


Prison staff exposed to drugs

Last Monday’s  BBC Panorama programme showed shocking footage of a prison officer taken to hospital after being exposed to Spice.

Conservative MP, Gary Streeter, asked what measures there are in place to protect staff from the harmful effects of psychoactive substances.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said there are a range of risk assessments and control measures in place if staff are exposed to psychoactive substances

“There are a range of support mechanisms available to them. This includes confidential counselling, occupational health services and care-teams in prisons. Following any suspected exposure, staff are also advised to visit the nearest Accident & Emergency Department”


IPP Sentences for the over 80s

How many people over the age of 80 are serving imprisonment for public protection  (IPP) sentences in England and Wales? Asked Lord Trefgarne. 

At the end of last year there were 3,683 prisoners serving IPP sentences. Fewer than 3 of these are aged over 80 years old said Lord Keen of Elie.

To find out more about IPP sentences, click here to watch our interview with Nick Hardwick, Chair of the Parole Board.

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