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Suicides increase in prison system

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There was a significant rise in the prison suicide rate last year, despite improvements in custodial healthcare provision.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers noted in her annual report last week that the number of self-inflicted deaths in prisons in England and Wales rose by 40% between 2006 and 2007, up from 63 to 88.

The report attributed the problem partly to overcrowding, with the prison population at a record high of 81,500 last year.

Ms Owers said it was a credit to staff that prisons had remained as safe as they were in a period of ‘unprecedented pressure’. But she added: ‘There is evidence of slippage, and of a system and a workforce that are ill-placed to take further pressure.’

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