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Suicide, murder rate in British prisons rises

Jan. 20, 2014 at 4:45 PM

LONDON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The suicide and murder rates in English and Welsh prisons have reached their highest levels in years, the Ministry of Justice in London announced Monday.

Four alleged homicides were reported in 2013, the highest number since 1998, and 70 apparent self-inflicted deaths, more than at any time since 2008. The total 2013 death toll in prisons in England and Wales was 199, the report said.

The suicide rate among female prisoners has fallen because of safety measures undertaken after a 2007 report by former Member of Parliament Jean Corston, which followed a sharp rise in the deaths of female inmates, the Guardian reported Monday.

"This is the highest number of alleged murders since 1998, and it reflects deep structural problems about control and order inside our jails," said David Wilson, Birmingham City University criminology professor.

Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said nearly all the deaths in custody were preventable.

"The responsibility for an increase in the number of people who take their own lives in prison lies squarely with those who advocate putting behind bars more and more people who do not need to be there," she said.

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