Ministry of Justice and HMPPS have released their quarterly statistics on the criminal justice system, covering topics such as changes in the prison population, reoffending, substance misuse treatment and self-harm in custody. The latter stats were most alarming, showing that self-inflicted deaths had increased since last year – particularly for those held on remand. Our deepest sympathies are with those who’ve lost loved ones in custody.
Campbell Robb, Nacro Chief Executive, said:
“Today’s figures show the devastating effect being in prison on remand can have on people. Last year saw a dramatic 68% rise in self-inflicted deaths among remand prisoners, despite only a 6% rise in the remand population. These are people held in custody while they await a trial or release. Covid-related backlogs leave more people being kept in remand in dire conditions, trapped in cells for 23 hours a day with little human contact.
One in ten people on remand will be found innocent but are spending unjust time in prison. Remand should only be used where there is a threat to public safety, or a risk of absconding, not as a holding pen. We need to work to quickly resolve cases and offer higher levels of support for those whose lives have been left in limbo on remand.”
A former prison remand officer and Nacro worker who helps those in prison, said:
“For many people, remand sets them up to fail. In many cases being on remand kills people’s mental health; it could be a minor first offence which would be better dealt with in the community. You get kept on remand and go through the trauma of prison which can throw you into a cycle of reoffending or worse. I can’t imagine what it is like for those who are then found innocent, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”