Self-harm incidents in HMP Lancaster Farms hit highest ever level

HMP Lancaster Farms
HMP Lancaster Farms
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Self-harm incidents in Lancaster Farms Prison hit their highest level on record in 2018, new figures show.

It follows a violent trend across England and Wales’s prisons, where deaths, assaults and self-harm incidents were all at record levels last year.

In Lancaster Farms Prison, 252 self-harm cases were recorded in 2018, with 33 inmates referred to hospital.

This is up from 178 during the previous year and is the highest figure since incidents started being recorded in 2004.

In 2013, there were 57 incidents of self-harm recorded, meaning a fourfold increase in just five years.

The numbers also reveal that there were 165 assaults in Lancaster Farms in 2018, a 9% drop on 2013.

In total, 21 were defined as serious, including sexual assaults and those where victims required hospital in-patient treatment.

Across England and Wales, 325 deaths were recorded in prisons in 2018, up from 295 the previous year.

In Lancaster Farms, two prisoners died in 2018.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “These figures reveal the sheer scale of the challenge to transform a prison system that has been overburdened and under-resourced for years. Change is happening, but it is like trying to turn around an oil tanker.

“I welcome the Government’s efforts to reduce violence, including recruiting more staff to increase numbers and refresh the workforce, but fundamental reform is being stymied by the lack of parliamentary time available for legislation.”

“I believe the will is there among ministers to make prisons safe and to reduce their unnecessary use, but in the end, lives can only be saved and violence reduced if the nettle of reform is grasped.”

Across prisons in England and Wales, more than 34,000 assaults were recorded in 2018, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year.

Self-harm also increased by 25 per cent, with nearly 56,000 cases in 2018.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Violence and self-harm in prisons remains unacceptably high, but there are early signs of progress.

“In February a self-harm summit was held at HMP Lancaster Farms to discuss the best ways to support vulnerable prisoners and we have introduced a helpline for family members concerned about loved ones.

“We will continue to prioritise improving safety and security – making conditions safer for prison officers and prisoners, and ultimately protecting the public.”