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COVID-DEATHS

New data released today’s shows:

Our Director of External Engagement, Helen Berresford, said: “Today’s statistics show the forgotten impact of Covid on the prison population. People in prison are at high risk from COVID-19 because of the prevalence of underlying chronic health conditions among this group and the living environment, which can make social distancing and other preventive measures more difficult. People in prison have faced months of lock down of up to 23 hours in their cells.

“Evidence shows that vaccine uptake is low amongst the prison population. Too many people leave prison without being registered with a GP or without a permanent address which can make accessing medical care more difficult. For those leaving into homelessness, around 1000 a month pre-covid, the impact on health and wellbeing can be severe. Everyone leaving prison must have somewhere to live, access to basic healthcare and support to help them move on.”

INCREASE IN SELF-HARM

There is a 47% increase in the rates of self-harm per 1,000 people in women’s prisons in the second quarter of 2021, new data released today shows.

The rate of self-harm incidents in women’s prisons is the highest it has been since 2004, and is a 16% increase between June 2020 and June 2021.

Our Director of External Engagement, Helen Berresford, said: “During the pandemic women in prison were unable to see their children or support networks for months at a time and faced up to 23 hours in their cells, unsurprisingly mental health among prisoners has plummeted.

“It is not only vital that we take an urgent look at mental health support in prisons, but that we fundamentally change our approach to women in the criminal justice system.

“Many women in prison, who are there for non-violent crimes and on short sentences, have experienced substance misuse, mental health problems, and homelessness – these are often the product of a life of abuse and trauma. Around 60% of women prisoners do not have homes to go to on release and may be at risk of returning to abusive relationships on leaving. It’s hardly surprising that women released from prison are more likely to reoffend, and reoffend sooner, than those serving community sentences.

“Sending women to prison often makes problems worse, not only for them but for their families and the communities around them. Today’s statistics show just how urgently reform is needed. Now more than ever we need a different approach, investing in community alternatives and support that we know are far more effective in reducing crime than prison.”