The number of prisoners who died by suicide rose by almost a third in 2018, figures seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform reveal today.
Overall deaths in custody rose by 10 per cent, the statistics show, and assaults increased by 20 per cent in the 12 months to September 2018.
Some 325 people died in prisons in England and Wales, including 92 men and women who lost their lives through suicide – a 31 per cent rise compared to 2017.
The Ministry of Justice bulletin shows that 162 people in prison were found to have died of natural causes, with investigations into a further 67 cases remain either unresolved or incomplete.
Prisons also recorded 52,814 incidents of self-injury in the 12 months to the end of September 2018 – at a rate of one every ten minutes.
Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “No one should be so desperate while in the care of the state that they decide to take their own life. It is a national scandal that the number of prisoners losing their lives through suicide has risen again.
“Particularly concerning is the growing number of people, including several men in their twenties, who have died in as yet unexplained circumstances. One cannot begin to imagine the pain this is causing to grieving families who still do not know how or why their loved ones died.
“Ministers have announced their intention to reform sentencing, and the harrowing statistics published today show why action is needed so urgently. Bold steps to further reduce the prison population would save lives, protect staff and prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of crime, violence and despair.”