Socialist Worker

Fear and self harm

Issue No. 1975

  • There are 77,800 people in custody in Britain today, of which 4,600 are women. This compares to 44,600 people in prison in 1993.
  • There are 11,300 people under 21 in prison today. There were 3,400 children in custody in September 2005, an increase of 10 percent from October 2004.
  • Some 800 men, women and children took their own lives in jails in England and Wales between 1995 and 2004. Over half of those who take their own lives in custody are on remand.
  • Overcrowded local jails suffer from the greatest number of suicides.
  • Around 40 percent of suicides occur within the first month of being in custody.
  • There have been 64 self-inflicted deaths in prisons in England and Wales so far this year. Twelve of the people who killed themselves were aged 20 or under.
  • In September 2005 the prison population was 11 percent over its capacity. Fourteen prisons were overcrowded to above 150 percent of their capacity.
  • Some 17,200 prisoners were doubled up in cells meant for one person in August 2005.
  • Just under 19 percent of the prison population are black or Asian. These minority groups make up around 6 percent of the British population.

Prison population rates per 100,000 of the population


Source: International Centre for Prison Studies, King’s College London

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