Self-harm has nearly doubled in the past two years in a scandal-ridden prison where a newborn baby recently died after his mother gave birth alone in a cell.
A new report from HMP Bronzefield’s Independent Monitoring Board found that there were an average of 220 self-harm incidents per month, compared to 91 two years ago. In June 1021 alone there were 371 cases.
The numbers represent a 140 percent increase versus a 47 percent increase for all female inmates across the country. As Europe’s largest women’s prison, Bronzefield’s numbers are likely to be significantly higher due to its size.
The report reads: “The board notes that the strict regime restrictions required to control Covid-19 have impaired the ability to treat women fairly and humanely and that prisons act as a” safe haven “for the severely mentally ill Women are used. “
Women in Prison (WIP), a charity that supports women affected by the criminal justice system, says the increases are part of a “more general trend in declining mental health of women in prisons” over the past decade, and the numbers from Bronzefields serve as a “sobering reminder” that prisons “do not allow recovery, but prevent it.
Sorana Vieru, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs at WIP, said The independent one: “The number of incidents of self-harm in women’s prisons has been rising for several years and has skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic and the introduction of strict prison regimes, underscoring the devastating mental health crisis of women in prisons.
“Incidents of self-harm have now reached record levels in women’s prisons and we still don’t know what the full impact of the pandemic will be. While restrictions in the community gradually eased, many women in prison did not, who stayed in their cells for up to 23 hours a day.
“However, these increases are part of a broader trend in declining mental health for women in prisons and serve as a sobering reminder that prisons are not safe and prevent recovery, rather than allowing recovery.
“These statistics are even more worrying in the context of the government’s plans to build 500 new prison places for women. Instead, the government can and must invest in community-based services such as women’s centers that help women address the problems that lead them to crime in the first place, such as domestic violence and mental illness.
The Justice Department announced additional investments in detention centers in January to improve conditions for women in detention. There are plans to build 500 new prison places in existing women’s prisons.
Lucy Frazer QC MP, Minister for Prisons and Probation, said, “This funding boost will allow the frontline services to continue the incredible work they are doing with some of the most vulnerable women in our society to prevent them get drawn into crime.
“Many female offenders suffer from complex problems and have had very traumatic lives – and only if we address this will we break the costly cycle of relapses.”
Bronzefield’s numbers follow a damning report by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) last month that highlighted a number of failures in caring for Ms. A., 18, who lost her newborn child at HMP Bronzefield on September 27, 2019 .
It describes a disturbing series of events culminating in the young woman, who cannot be named, having died on the night of December 26th.
She had rung her cell phone bell twice in the evening, first at 8:07 p.m. and again 25 minutes later to see a nurse, but no one paid attention to her. In the end, she had to sit on the toilet and could no longer ring the cell phone to call for help again, the report said.
After the baby was born, Ms. A. had to bite the umbilical cord herself before attempting to mop up the blood on the floor, investigators said.
Sue McAllister, the ombudsman, said Ms A failed because of an “inflexible, unimaginative and inadequately informed about trauma” approach to care and because of “outdated and inadequate” delivery services at HMP Bronzefield.