EIGHTY-SEVEN young people killed themselves in custody during a six-year period, a report headed by Lord Harris revealed yesterday.
Four children and 83 young adults, aged from 18 to 24, committed suicide between April 2007 and December 2013 while detained in young offender institutes (YOIs) and prisons.
That number increased to 101 by December last year — however the subsequent 18 deaths fell outside the report’s timescale.
“While there is no simple and easy solution, it is clear that the prison service needs to make radical changes to protect the most vulnerable people in custody more effectively,” said Lord Harris.
“Young adults in prison are not sufficiently engaged in purposeful activity and the prison environment is grim, bleak and demoralising to the spirit.”
The majority of the dead were white males and two were female.
Joseph Scholes, 16, was nine days into a two-year sentence for playing a “peripheral role” in a robbery when he died at Stoke Heath YOI in March 2002.
He had been in children’s homes and had been sexually abused by a member of his father’s family from age six.
His suffering led him to self-harm and suicide attempts.
Mr Scholes was placed under intense observation, but was not seen by a psychiatrist even though he repeatedly told staff that he would kill himself.
The inquest into his avoidable death heard from a number of experts that he should not have been placed in the YOI, the report states.
Howard League for Penal Reform chief executive Frances Crook said that the report was “a magisterial overview of the failings in the system.”