Prison Reform Trust: Improve first night services to cut suicides

The Prison Reform Trust has called on the government to ensure that specialist first night services are made available in all prisons to reduce the number of inmates attempting suicide, in a report today.

It contained research showing that support given to new inmates within the first 72 hours of incarceration can significantly reduce stress. It also urged the government to increase the opportunities for family contact within the first few days.

The report examined the effectiveness of charity the Prison Advice and Care Trust’s first night in custody service, published today. In a survey of 91 prisoners it was found that 12% of new arrivals to a prison said they had considered or attempted suicide and that 58% reported feeling anxiety or distress.

Director of the Prison Reform Trust Juliet Lyon said: “The sobering truth is that, despite considerable efforts by the prison service, already this year the number of suicides in prison has exceeded the number for the whole of last year. The government needs to act now.”

Crime reduction charity Nacro welcomed the report. Chief executive Paul Cavadino said: “Prisoners are particularly vulnerable when they first enter jail. For remand prisoners the sudden deprivation of liberty, clang of the prison gates, the noise and the overcrowding can have a devastating effect. Along with the anxiety and uncertainty of their position awaiting trial, the experience can tip them of the edge into a suicide attempt.”

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