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Self-harm incidents up 50 per cent at Wigan prison

Hindley prison
Hindley prison

Prison reformers have demanded action after it emerged that levels of self-harm among inmates at HMP Hindley had shot up by more than 50 per cent in just five years.

New figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that there were 152 incidents in 2012 at the Bickershaw jail - but this had soared to 233 by 2017.

This mirrors the outlook for penal institutions across the UK, which has led to the Howard League labelling the situation a “national emergency”.

Prison inspectors this week also described the level of self-harm at Hindley as “too high” and highlighted a lack of trained listeners for inmates.

An inquest earlier this year into the death of Wigan-born Stephen Connell, who was found hanging at Hindley in February 2016, highlighted shortcomings with provisions for self-harming inmates.

The 20-year-old took an overdose, after being seriously assaulted there, and had shut himself away in the days leading up to his demise.

Jurors expressed concerns that the young man had been denied “privileges” after refusing to leave his cell, amid concerns over his own safety.

Another inquest later this year will also examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Anthony Hill, from Liverpool, whose body was discovered in a cell in early March 2017.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This shameful rise in violence and self-injury is the direct result of policy decisions to allow the number of people behind bars to grow unchecked while starving prisons of resources. This is a national emergency, and the government must respond boldly and urgently.”

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “The levels of violence, suicide and self-harm in our prisons are far too high and we are taking urgent action to address these problems.”

He pledged a recruitment drive would ensure prisons were “safe, secure and decent”, while rehabilitating offenders.