Responding to the Ministry of Justice's safety in custody statistics, published today (30 January), Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:
"In recent years, the government has taken a big gamble with public safety: cutting prison budgets without cutting prison numbers.
"This was always going to mean fewer staff in overcrowded prisons and fewer useful activities for prisoners, leaving them cooped up in cells all day with nothing to do.
"The shameful rise in assaults on staff and prisoners, as well as the increase in self-harm and prisoners taking their lives, is a direct consequence of this policy.
"To avoid our prisons spiralling dangerously out of control, the Ministry of Justice must now show bold leadership to reform sentencing and reduce the number of people held needlessly behind bars."
As can be seen from the graph below, although prisoner self harm statistics overall have fallen recently, this is almost completely driven by the reduction in female self harming. But when looked at on a longer term basis the numbers overall have fallen back to the sort of level seen in the years of the mid 2000s. The significant reductions in female self harm are of course to be welcomed, but this has been almost completely offset by a consistent rise in male self harm over the period. However, the proportion of female self harm is still greater than that of the men says the MoJ.