SUICIDE and self-harm in prisons is soaring according to a damning report published by the National Audit Office today.
The spending watchdog warned that jails are “struggling to cope” due to funding cuts and staff shortages.
Its figures showed that self-harm incidents rose by 73 per cent between 2012 and 2016 to 40,161.
There were 120 suicides in prisons in England and Wales last year, almost double the figure for 2012.
Responding to the shocking figures, public-sector union PCS’s general secretary Mark Serwotka warned of a “crisis in our prisons” that must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
HM Prisons & Probation Service funds were slashed by 13 per cent between 2009-10 and 2016-17, with a 30 per cent drop in prison staff over the same period.
According to the report the prison system “is under considerable pressure” due to reduced resources, making it harder to manage prisoners’ mental health as they spend more of the day in their cells.
Audit office chief Sir Amyas Morse said: “Improving the mental health of those in prison will require a step change in effort and resources.” He praised the quality of clinical care but warned that the figures suggest a decline in mental health and well-being overall.
Mr Serwotka said: “Cuts in budgets and staffing have led to a crisis in our prisons and a crisis for prisoners with mental-health problems.
“With a sharp rise in self-inflicted deaths and self-harm, prisons are now less safe for prisoners and for staff and officers, and this must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”