Home > Preventing the deaths of women in prison – initial results of a rapid information gathering exercise by the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody.

Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody. (2017) Preventing the deaths of women in prison – initial results of a rapid information gathering exercise by the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody. London: Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody. 45 p.

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Points to note on the report:
•This UK report is a working paper that will be updated and refined as the findings are discussed with Ministers, operational leads and experts and action taken.
•Many of the findings and solutions offered by over 100 experts cross disciplines and departmental boundaries and require clear leadership and support from national and local government.
•The State is required not only to comply with Article 2 of the Human Rights Act but also to take positive steps to protect life.

Main points
•Insufficient attention is paid to preventative work and effective community sentences which would avoid separation from family, the losses sustained by imprisonment and the uphill battle on release to find somewhere safe to live and a means of earning a living – all of which increase the risk of suicide and self-harm.
•There are examples of good practice before, during and after custody – however, these providers are struggling with resource pressures and the lack of a gender-specific approach to safeguarding women.
•Women prisoners are different to men– in terms of vulnerability, offences, personal histories and caring responsibilities – and should be treated as such.
•The reduction in staff numbers and loss of experienced staff has had a negative impact on the ability of prison governors and staff to build and maintain consistent, trusting relationships with the women in their custody.
•Mental healthcare and treatment for addictions are overly variable and require greater consistency in design and application to meet acceptable standards
•The work of Samaritan Listeners and Insiders is inspiring and indicates the potential for self-help and peer support.
•Transfer of information between agencies and between prisons can and must be improved in order to keep women safe and those who work with them fully informed.
•Family contact is hugely significant factor in keeping women safe in custody and on release – yet prison location, technology and visiting arrangements make this harder for women than men.
•Too many women are released with insufficient support – particularly in fundamental areas such as safe housing – leading to a quick return to addiction, crime and custody: the revolving door.

Findings p.13
• What factors have contributed to the rise in deaths of women in prison? p.13
• What specific changes – during custody – could help reduce deaths and keep women safe? p.15
• What specific changes – during custody – could help reduce deaths and keep women safe? p.19
• What improvements, if any, in mental health provision, treatment for addictions and social care need to be made? p.23
• Is the transfer of information an issue in ensuring the safety of women in prison, and if so, how can this be improved? p.27
• Is family contact an important consideration and, if so, how can this be improved? p.30
• Could preparation for release be improved specifically to safeguard vulnerable women? p.33?
• Appendix A – Case studies p.37
• Appendix B – Suggested reports and recommendations p.39
• Appendix C – Examples of good practice p.42
• Appendix D – Details of respondents and contributors p.44


Item Type:Evidence resource
Publication Type:Report
Drug Type:Alcohol or other drugs in general
Intervention Type:AOD disorder harm reduction, Crime prevention
Date:2017
Pages:45 p.
Publisher:Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody
Corporate Creators:Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody
Place of Publication:London
EndNote:View
Related URLs:
Subjects:J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health care programme or facility > Prison-based health service
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Correctional system and facility > Prison
P Demography, epidemiology, and history > Population dynamics > Substance related mortality / death
T Demographic characteristics > Woman (women / female)
T Demographic characteristics > Prison Inmate (prisoner)
T Demographic characteristics > Offender
VA Geographic area > Europe > United Kingdom

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