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Deaths in Prison Custody

Ministry of Justice Statistics January 2017

The Ministry of Justice has released the figures for Deaths in prison and rates by apparent cause by calendar year since 1978 for England and Wales. I have summarised the figures given at 5 years intervals.

Year

Population

Total deaths

Homicides

Natural Causes

Self - inflicted

Others *

1978

41,796

59

5

34

16

4

1982

43,707

61

0

32

27

2

1987

48,426

81

0

35

46

0

1992

44,719

81

3

34

41

3

1997

61,114

118

2

47

68

1

2002

70778

164

0

66

95

3

2007

80,216

185

1

89

91

4

2012

86,634

192

0

123

61

8

2016

85,348

354

3

196

119

36

*Others (a category including other non- natural and awaiting further information)

  • Over a period of 36 years the prison population had doubled.
  • In the 5 years between 1992 and 1997 there was roughly a 50% increase in the prison population.
  • Between 2012 and 2016 total number of deaths nearly doubled.
  • Between 2007 and 2016 the number of deaths by natural causes more than doubled, reflecting greater numbers of elderly prisoners in custody, longer and more indeterminate sentences.
  • In the four year period 2012 and 2016 self-inflicted deaths have nearly doubled.
  • In recent years there has been a 40% reduction in the number of prison officers, most of which have been experienced, long serving members of staff.
  • The primary responsibility of the state, having taken away the rights of an individual, is to adequately care for them; clearly the state is falling down on this task.

Francis Boylan, Chair PPEG, Criminal Justice Ministry of Justice Statistics January 2017