Urgent call for action as prison murder rates soar

HMP Hewell has been named and shamed as one of a number of prisons contributing to a sharp rise in the number of suspected murders and self-inflicted deaths behind bars.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has called for urgent action after revealing that there were four alleged homicides in prisons in England and Wales – the most in a calendar year since 1998.

One of those was at the Tardebigge prison.

The other prisons where homicides were allegedly committed are Long Lartin near Evesham, Lincoln in Lincolnshire and Lindholme, near Doncaster in South Yorkshire.

HMP Hewell also recorded five deaths and three self-inflicted deaths during the year - one of the highest out of all prisons in England and Wales.

Professor David Wilson, vice chair of the Howard League for Penal Reform and a former prison governor, said: “This is the highest number of alleged murders since 1998 and it reflects deep structural problems about control and order inside our jails – not our most high-security jails, but every prison in which we currently lock people up.

“The prison service has a duty of care to prisoners that this murder rate suggests it cannot deliver.”

A prison service spokesman said: "We are committed to making sure prisons are safe and secure, this includes reducing the number of deaths and applying strenuous efforts to learn from each one."

In total, 199 deaths were reported during 2013, of which 70 were self-inflicted – the highest rate in six years.

More than 100 prisoners died of natural causes, and a further 22 deaths are yet to be classified by prison authorities.

The statistics are based on notifications from the Ministry of Justice.

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