PRESS RELEASE: Women in Prison responds to self-harm incidents for women in prison reach highest level in a decade

Self-harm incidents for women in prison reach highest level in a decade

Today, Thursday 28 October, the Ministry of Justice released new figures on self-harm in prison to June 2021.

These figures show a 47% increase in the rate of self-harm incidents per 1,000 people in the women’s estate on the previous quarter. This is a deeply worrying continuation of deteriorating mental health for women in prison.

From June 2020 to June 2021 there was a 16% annual increase in the rate of self-harm incidents, which took the total number of self-harm incidents to its highest level for the last decade.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, and strict prison regimes were implemented, self-harm incidents for women in prison have jumped to record levels, continuing the upwards trend since 2017.

Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at Women in Prison, Sorana Vieru, says:

“This huge jump in self-harm incidents on the last quarter highlights the devastating mental health crisis for women in prison. Self-harm incidents have now hit record levels and we still don’t know what the full impact of the pandemic will be. While restrictions in the community have gradually eased, this hasn’t been the case for many women in prison, who have remained confined to their cells for up to 23 hours a day.

“However, these increases are part of a wider trend of declining mental health for women in prison and serve as a sobering reminder that prisons are not safe and do not enable recovery, but prevent it.

“These statistics are even more worrying in the context of yesterday’s Spending Review, which saw the Government announce funding for 20,000 more prison places, including 500 for women’s prisons. Instead, the Government can and must invest in community-based services that support women to tackle the issues that sweep them into crime in the first place, like domestic abuse and mental ill-health.”

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For media enquiries, please contact Molly Fleming at [email protected], Phone: 07971951477

Read the case for women’s centres here and for key facts on women in prison here.

Women in Prison (WIP) is a national charity that delivers support for women affected by the criminal justice system in prisons. We work in prisons, the community and ‘through the gate’, supporting women leaving prison. We run three Women’s Centres and ‘hubs’ for services in Manchester, Surrey and London) and campaign to end the harm caused to women, their families and our communities by imprisonment

See for more information. Twitter: @WIP_live