Incidents of self-harm at Littlehey prison have surged - new figures show

HMP Littlehey, in Perry.

HMP Littlehey, in Perry. - Credit: Archant

Self-harm cases at HMP Littlehey have increased by 65 per cent in five years, with prison reform campaigners declaring the situation a “national emergency”.

The rise in self-harm, revealed in numbers from the Ministry of Justice, shows the scale of the task prison officers are facing in keeping inmates safe.

There were 334 recorded incidents of self-harm in Littlehey, in Perry, in 2017, compared to 203 in 2012.

The numbers also reveal that 94 assaults were recorded in 2017, of which 23 were on prison staff. And 14 assaults were defined as serious, a category which includes sexual assaults and those where victims required hospital in-patient treatment.

In 2012, 206 assaults were recorded, marking a five-year decrease of 54 per cent.

Across prisons in England and Wales, nearly 30,000 assaults were recorded last year, more than double the number in 2012. Self-harm also increased by 92 per cent over the same five-year period, with nearly 45,000 cases in 2017.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This shameful rise in violence and self-injury is the direct result of policy decisions to allow the number of people behind bars to grow unchecked while starving prisons of resources.

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“This is a national emergency, and the government must respond boldly and urgently. Positive steps to reduce the prison population would save lives, protect staff, and prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of crime and despair.”

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “The levels of violence, suicide and self-harm in our prisons are far too high and we are taking urgent action to address these problems.

“Assaults on our hardworking staff will never be tolerated. We are ensuring prison officers have the tools they need to do the job, rolling out body worn cameras, ‘police-style’ handcuffs and restraints, and trialling PAVA incapacitant spray.

“Our recruitment drive is vital to ensuring prisons are safe, secure and decent so they can successfully rehabilitate offenders, and 90 per cent of our additional 3,111 prison officers are due to be on landings by the summer.”