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Significant increase in self-harm among prisoners at HMP/YOI Lewes

Incidents of self-harm at HMP Lewes rose by nearly 40 percent from 353 to 490 during the 2022-2023 reporting year, says the Independent Monitoring Board in its latest annual report.

The report also highlights that:

  • More than half the prisoners, who were not in work, education or attending chaplaincy sessions, were kept in their cells for up to 23 hours a day.
  • The education centre ran less than 30 percent of its sessions for seven months of the year. And, at best, the prison can only offer around 40 percent of prisoners work or education.
  • There was a significant increase in the number of prisoner assaults on staff. During the previous reporting year there were 69 incidents of assaults on staff, of which five were serious. In the same period in 2022/23 this had increased to 101 (up 46 percent), of which eight were serious.
  • There was a disproportionate use of force involving black, Asian and minority ethnic prisoners. A review of nine months’ data showed the prison population averaged 23 percent in this category of prisoners, although they accounted for 35 percent of the use of force.

IMB Lewes Chair, Peter Scaramanga, said:

“During the year the prison struggled badly with low staffing levels and saw increasing rates of self-harm and assaults on staff. It is especially disappointing that opportunities for work, education and other purposeful activity are so few at the prison. The situation has, however, improved a bit since February with staffing levels increasing, education offering more sessions and on average the men are spending some more time out of their cells, although it has not yet returned to pre pandemic levels.”