PRESS RELEASE: Women in Prison responds to the 'growing mental health crisis' for women in prison

Today, Thursday 29 April, the Ministry of Justice released new figures on self-harm in prison from the 12 months to December 2020.

These figures show a 13% increase in the number self-harm incidents per 1,000 women in prison, taking the figure to the highest on record. This is an increase for the sixth consecutive year. There was also a record number of self-harm incidents which required hospital attendance in the 12 months to December 2020, increasing by 16% to 320.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, and strict regimes were implemented, rates of self-harm for women in prison have jumped to record levels. This has accelerated the general year-on-year increase of self-harm for women in prison since 2012, which has hit a record high for the second consecutive year.

CEO of Women in Prison, Dr Kate Paradine, says: These statistics show we cannot continue to ignore the growing mental health crisis for women in prison. Self-harm incidents have consistently hit record levels since the pandemic began. Women have been confined to their cells for up to 23 hours a day – and many will not have had visits from family in over a year.

“We must not let one health crisis come at the cost of another. It doesn’t have to be like this - the Government can honour its promise and resume its early release scheme allowing women to safely isolate in the community. For people not eligible, we need to prioritise the vaccinations so women can spend more time outside their cells.”

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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.

CEO of Women in Prison Dr Kate Paradine is available for interviews.

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