Self-harm in prison custody
1. Main facts and figures
between 2012 and 2020, the rate of self-harm among prisoners in public prisons in England and Wales went up in every ethnic group
the increase was biggest among prisoners with Mixed ethnicity – from 136 to 443 self-harm incidents per 1,000 prisoners, an increase of 226%
out of all ethnic groups, White prisoners had the highest rate of self-harm every year – in 2020, there were 823 self-harm incidents for every 1,000 White prisoners
2. Things you need to know
What the data measures
The data shows the number of self-harm incidents in public prisons in England and Wales. It also shows the rate of incidents for every 1,000 prisoners in each ethnic group.
Self-harm is any act where a prisoner deliberately harms themselves. This is regardless of how they do it, what their intent is, or how badly they are hurt.
Rates for every 1,000 prisoners are rounded to the nearest whole number.
Not included in the data
Values based on 2 or fewer prisoners are not shown. This is to protect prisoners’ confidentiality. No incident numbers have been suppressed when calculating rates.
How self-harm rates are calculated
The rate shown for each ethnic group is the average number of self-harm incidents in each year for every 1,000 prisoners from that ethnic group.
The ethnic groups used in the data
Data is shown for 5 aggregated ethnic groups:
This means estimates are shown for these groups as a whole.
Prisoners reported their own ethnicity. About 95% of prisoners reported their ethnicity for each year of the period studied.
Read the detailed methodology document (PDF opens in a new window or tab) for the data on this page.
Some prisoners may be involved in more than one self-harm incident, in which case they will be included in the data more than once.
There are more White prisoners compared with other ethnic groups. You can read more about how group size affects the reliability of data.
In the data file
See Download the data for numbers of self-harm incidents from 2012 to 2020 for:
- each ethnic group
- prisoners whose ethnicity was not known
3. By ethnicity over time
|Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Rate per 1,000 prisoners|
Summary of Self-harm in prison custody By ethnicity over time Summary
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Ministry of Justice
Purpose of data source
This data is used by the government to:
- inform policy development
- monitor the impact of changes over time
- model future changes and their impact on the prison system
5. Download the data
This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, rate per 1,000, numerator