The UK Ministry of Justice reported a significant rise in the number of people who died by suicide in prisons across England and Wales in 2016.
Ministry figures show there were 119 suicides, an increase of 29 – or 32 percent – on 2015. This represents an average of one death every three days and the highest number since records began in 1978.
It also reported a record high 25,049 assault incidents and 37,784 incidents of self-harm in the prison system. The number of deaths by suicide in police custody also increased by around one-third to 354.
Justice minister Liz Truss said in a statement that “the situation was very serious.”
“The government will invest an extra £100 million in the prison system and will hire 2,500 additional prison staff and implement new security measures to tackle drones, cell phones and drugs to help make prisons places of safety and reform,” Truss said.
Truss added that more prison staff will be trained to join the specialist Tornado anti-riot squads in response to eight serious disturbances and riots in the prison system in the last three months.
Official figures obtained by The Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the number of incidents requiring Tornado riot squads to regain control of a prison tripled between 2013 and 2015.
The Tornado squads, which are specially trained to handle violent disorder, were called out five times in 2013, 16 times in 2014 and 15 times in 2015. The Ministry of Justice has not yet released figures for 2016, but recent figures for the deployment of the national tactical response group which deals with minor incidents showed they were deployed more than 60 times per month last summer, according to the Guardian.