REVEALED: Wandsworth Prison’s ‘tragic’ suicide rates are highest in country

Suicide rates at Wandsworth prison are the highest in the country, as prisoner suicide rates rose to its highest level for seven years, reported a prison charity today.

Eighty-two prisoners took their own lives in 2014, including four in Wandsworth, this level is matched only by Elmley prison in Kent who also recorded four suicides.

Wandsworth prison, as reported by SW Londoner, is dangerously overcrowded and serious concerns have been raised over the well-being of the incarcerated men.

Wandsworth also recorded the highest number of overall prisoner deaths in 2014, with a total of ten men dying behind bars, four deaths declared from natural causes and two are still awaiting further information.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “No one should be so desperate whilst they are in the care of the state that they take their own life.

“Hard-pressed prison staff have to save lives by cutting people down almost every day and without this the death toll would be even higher.

“It is evident that people are dying as a direct result of the cuts to the number of staff, particularly more experienced staff, in every prison.

“The government has chosen to allow the prison population to increase whilst it cuts staff, and that has led to an increase in people dying by suicide.”

In total 235 people died in prisons in England and Wales during 2014. More than 120 prisoners died of natural causes, and a further 24 deaths are yet to be classified by authorities.

They included 14 young adults, aged between 18 and 24, data compiled by the Howard League for Penal Reform revealed.

Ms Crook added: “The numbers hide the true extent of misery inside prisons and for families. It is particularly tragic that teenagers and other young people have died by their own hand in our prisons and we should all be ashamed that this happened.

The distressing figues also show prisoners on remand were disproportionately likely to kill themselves in custody, south west London prisons are among the worst for holding people needlessly on remand, as reported by SW Londoner.

One in three prisoners who took their own lives was on remand, although remand prisoners account for only one-seventh of the prison population at any one time.

The Howard League and Centre for Mental Health are launching a programme to tackle suicides in prison, they aim to completely end the death toll.

Sean Duggan, chief executive of Centre for Mental Health, said: “Every time a person takes their own life it is a tragedy for them and their family, and we must do all we can to avoid such loss of life.

“Centre for Mental Health is pleased to announce it will be embarking on a joint programme of work with the Howard League for Penal Reform, supported by The Monument Trust, to research ways to prevent suicides in prison.

“We hope the work will make a real difference to people in prison at risk of suicide and with poor mental health.”

prison deaths 2014 table
Deaths in custody data for 2014 in SW London prisions.
A prison’s ‘In Use CNA’ (Certified Normal Accommodation) is the prison service’s own measure of how many prisoners can be held in decent and safe accommodation.

Picture courtesy of  diamond geezer

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