Deaths in British prisons are reaching record highs

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Picture: Getty

Theresa May signalled the launch of a major independent review into deaths in police custody in a speech last month.

The home secretary's announcement came after she was "struck by the pain and suffering of families still looking for answers" and will attempt to restore the public's fraying faith in the police. According to campaigners there were 380 deaths in police custody in England and Wales between 2002 and 2012.

But for those caught up in the criminal justice system, the risk of death doesn't end once they pass from police custody into prison.

As figures collated by the charity Inquest show, despite peaking last year, deaths in prison keep on rising and will reach a record high if they continue at this rate through to the end of the year.

Graphic: Statista

Using official government figures, the charity has highlighted that there were 135 deaths in prisons in the first half of the year (to end of June). If that rate continues, there will be 270 deaths by the end of December - higher than the 242 in 2014.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson told

We take our duty to keep prisoners safe extremely seriously.

There is urgent work underway to reduce violence in prisons and any serious crime would be referred to the police for investigation.

Staff also provide support to vulnerable offenders every day and we have dedicated regional staff who share good practice across establishments.

All deaths are fully investigated by the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.

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