St Helens MP calls for review of prison deaths

St Helens South MP Marie Rimmer
St Helens South MP Marie Rimmer

A St Helens MP has called for action to be taken after a record rise of deaths in prison custody.

Marie Rimmer, Labour MP for St Helens South and Whiston, wants the Justice Secretary to intriduce a “duty of candour” similar to the system introduced into the NHS in the wake of the Francis Inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

Ms Rimmer made the call during an Urgent Question on safety in prisons and secure training centres.

The Urgent Question was tabled ahead of the damning BBC Panorama investigation into G4S’s management of the Medway Secure Training Centre.

The provisions would place a duty on employees within the prison service to report any incident of concern to the appropriate authority.

The current NHS provisions place a duty on healthcare providers to 'provide to the service user and any other relevant person all necessary support and all relevant information' in the event that a 'reportable patient safety incident', namely an incident which could have or did result in moderate or severe harm or death, takes place.

Ministry of Justice figures show that 186 prisoners took their own lives in the two years leading up to October 2015.

This means that a prisoner in England and Wales has taken their own life every four days. The number of self-injury incidents recorded in prisons in England and Wales has also risen by 21 percent over the last year.

In response to Marie’s question the Justice Secretary, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, gave assurances that he would ask Charlie Taylor, Chair of the Justice department’s review into youth justice, to look into this issue as part of his ongoing review.

Following the exchange, Ms Rimmer said: “Deaths in custody have hit their highest level for over a decade and self-harm rates continue to rise. Many young people in custody are extremely vulnerable and there are serious safeguarding issues the Government needs to address.

“I am pleased that the Justice Secretary has agreed to give this matter consideration and I look forward to hearing Mr Taylor’s response as part of his review into this matter.”