source: INQUEST originally published: 26 July 2018
The Ministry of Justice has today (26 July 2018) released the latest statistics on safety, deaths and self-harm in custody. The data shows that levels of self-harm and violence in prison continues to escalate. While the number of overall deaths have reduced since 2016, they are still at historically high levels.
Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said:
“These statistics point to the disturbing reality of prison life with escalating levels of distress, self-harm, homicide and violence. The only way to improve safety and reduce prison deaths is to dramatically cut the prison population and invest in community alternatives.
The number of deaths awaiting classification in this period has more than doubled with the majority of people found unresponsive in their cells. The undetermined nature of these deaths raises questions as to whether they are drug related or due to undiagnosed or untreated health conditions.
A specialist emergency response unit which offers immediate assessments to suspected mental health sufferers in the West Midlands has been recognised internationally – after counterparts from Australia visited the region to learn about best practice.
The Mental Health Triage scheme sees West Midlands Police officers joined by psychiatric nurses and paramedics to attend calls from people who are believed to be suffering from mental ill health.
The successful police and NHS partnership means patients get on-the-spot assessments at their home or on the street and can be taken to safe health facilities for the support they need rather than held in police custody.
Everybody has “mental health”, but far too many of us have mental health problems. For many years this has existed in a twilight zone, both in society in general and the NHS in particular.
There is now a welcome desire and indeed some success in bringing it into the light. The effect of light, though, is to illuminate not only what is important but also to draw attention to those areas which, whilst no longer in the dark, remain very much in the shadows.
In recent years, there has been necessary attention given to issues such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems, how people react to adversity and so on. We have seen unprecedented investment in talking therapies for those with common mental health problems, and an upsurge of general interest in mental health, aided by campaigns such as “Time to Change” or “Heads Together”.