Statistics show there has been a 69% increase in self-inflicted deaths in English and Welsh prisons throughout the course of 2013-14. Such results have raised concerns over the evidently declining safety standards in jails. The report conducted by The Guardian recorded that on average over six prisoners a month take their own life.

Chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick cited increasing levels of violence and overcrowding as key contributions to the rise in prisoner suicides amongst other factors. The prison population has swelled in the previous year increasing from 84,083 in April 2013 to 85,252 in March 2014. This coupled with the hostile nature of the prison environment where bullying and brutality dominate inmate life appears to highlight startling inadequacies within the British jail system, demonstrated by the released statistics.

A further report revealed, not only inefficiencies in terms of prison standards, but also failings on behalf of the staff to identify those prisoners most at risk of self-harm. The lack of adequately experienced staff alongside the influx in prison population has inevitably contributed to the increase in self-inflicted deaths.

When commenting on the report Nick Hardwick firmly contested that the rise in self-inflicted deaths was the result of one isolated cause, instead maintaining that “they reflect some deep-seated trends and affect prisons in both the private and public sector.”

Earlier government reports appear to confirm the deteriorating state of the British penal system, condemning the state of English and Welsh jails but as of yet no solution has been proposed despite numerous cautions from the chief inspector and penal reformers. The shocking statistic on the rise in self-inflicted deaths simply reaffirms fears that the British penal system is teetering on the edge of instability.

Here at Farleys Solicitors we have a team specialising in inquests and have extensive experience in representing families where their loved one has taken their own life whilst in the detention of the state. If you require assistance with the inquest process but are concerned about how much it will cost to obtain such representation, you may be eligible for public funding. For further information please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0845 050 1958 or email us.