Self inflicted deaths and harm in prison custody
- 1. Navigate toMain facts and figures section
- 2. Navigate toThings you need to know section
- 3. Navigate to By ethnicity over time (self-inflicted deaths in prison custody) section
- 4. Navigate to By ethnicity over time (self-harm in prison custody) section
- 5. Navigate toData sources section
- 6. Navigate toDownload the data section
1. Main facts and figures
between 2012 and 2020, the number of self-inflicted deaths among white prisoners in public prisons in England and Wales went up from 49 to 57, and the rate of self-inflicted deaths went from 0.8 to 1.0 for every 1,000 prisoners
the number of self-inflicted deaths among prisoners from the Asian, black, mixed and ‘other’ ethnic groups was too small to be able to make reliable generalisations
prisoners from white ethnic group had the highest rate of self-harm every year – in 2020, there were 823 self-harm incidents for every 1,000 white prisoners
between 2012 and 2020, prisoners from the Asian and black ethnic groups had the lowest rates of self harm every year
2. Things you need to know
What the data measures
The data shows the number of self-inflicted deaths and incidents of self-harm in public prisons in England and Wales.
It shows the rate of self-inflicted deaths for every 1,000 prisoners, and the rate of incidents of self-harm for every 1,000 prisoners in each ethnic group.
Self-inflicted deaths include suicides and cases where prisoners unintentionally caused their own death. This is the definition used by the Office for National Statistics for suicides in the general population and it is used because it is not always known whether a person intended to commit suicide.
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 1 decimal place.
How self-inflicted death rates and self-harm rates are calculated
The rate shown for each ethnic group is the average number of self-inflicted deaths and 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.
The data does not include prisoners whose ethnicity was not known.
About 95% of prisoners reported their ethnicity for each year of the period studied.
Read the detailed methodology document (PDF) (PDF opens in a new window or tab) for the data on this page.
All deaths in prison custody are subject to a police investigation and a coroner’s inquest, which can sometimes lead to deaths being reclassified. Because of this, all figures for 2020 are provisional.
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 (self-inflicted deaths in prison custody)
|Time||Asian Rate per 1000 prisoners||Asian Number||Black Rate per 1000 prisoners||Black Number||Mixed Rate per 1000 prisoners||Mixed Number||White Rate per 1000 prisoners||White Number||Other Rate per 1000 prisoners||Other Number|
4. By ethnicity over time (self-harm in prison custody)
|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|
5. 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
6. Download the data
This file contains the following: measure, year, ethnicity, ethnicity type, gender, value, number of self-inflicted deaths
This file contains the following: measure, year, ethnicity, ethnicity type, rate per 1,000 prisoners, number of self-harm incidents