Self-inflicted deaths in prison custody
1. Main facts and figures
- between 2012 and 2017, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 1,000 White prisoners rose from 0.79 to 0.96 – and the number of self-inflicted deaths among White prisoners rose from 49 to 60
- however, the rate among White prisoners in 2017 was at its lowest since 2012, having peaked at 1.66 per 1,000 prisoners in 2016 (104 deaths)
- the number of self-inflicted deaths among prisoners from all other ethnic groups was too small to draw firm conclusions about these groups
The ethnic categories used in this data
Prisoners reported their own ethnicity according to the following broad categories from the 2011 Census:
- Asian/Asian British
- Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
- Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
2. By ethnicity over time
|Time||Asian Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Asian Number||Black Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Black Number||Mixed Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Mixed Number||White Rate per 1,000 prisoners||White Number||Other Rate per 1,000 prisoners||Other Number|
Self-inflicted deaths are any death of a person who has apparently taken his or her own life irrespective of intent. This not only includes suicides but also accidental deaths as a result of the person’s own actions. This classification is used because it is not always known whether a person intended to commit suicide.
To calculate the prison population, a 12-month average was used, based on prisoner counts done at the start of every month (where this data was available). Data on the prisoner population by age or by ethnicity was not available, so quarterly data was used to calculate these aspects of the prisoner population.
Ethnicity is based on self-reporting by prisoners and has not been independently validated. About 95% of prisoners reported their ethnicity for each year of the period studied.
Incidents are marked as ‘not recorded/unknown’ when prisoner details were either not available or not recorded in full at the time of the incident.
Information is provided by prisons and published by the Ministry of Justice after data checks are completed.
Rates per 1,000 are rounded to 2 decimal places.
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Ministry of Justice
Purpose of data source
This data is used by 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: ethnicity, year, value, and numerator