Detainees at risk of self-harm: better information-sharing needed on escort records

  • Police, courts, escorts and prisons need to work together to improve the quality and flow of information shared between them about detainees at risk of self-harm, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons.

    The report, The use of the person escort record with detainees at risk of self-harm, was completed at the request of the Independent Advisory Panel of the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody. It describes the processes by which information about a person's risk of self-harm is transferred and used as they move between police custody, court and prison and on other external journeys.

    The main vehicle for conveying this information is the person escort record (PER). It is, therefore, a crucial part of how the state fullfils its duty of care for vulnerable people in custody.

    Inspectors found that often PERs contained vague statements like 'may try to kill himself in prison'. For the prison to be able to manage the risk, its staff would need to know why the custody officer wrote that - for example, had the detainee tried to kill himself before, or had he told custody staff he would try to do that.

    Inspectors recommended that:

    • the training of staff involved in recording self-harm information needed to be improved, as many staff, despite their best intentions, had little knowledge of how it would be used at its destination and how important it could be in helping to safeguard vulnerable people;
    • improved quality assurance by police forces could mean that more first-hand information is picked up and included on PERs to give a fuller and more helpful picture; and
    • changes in the design of the PER and its accompanying documentation and improvements in how information is stored and disseminated in establishments could ensure better use of that information.

    Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said:

    This report explores two key issues in detail - maintaining quality in large-scale processes where risks might be infrequent but serious for the individuals concerned, and ensuring communication between the operational staff involved is effective. It makes recommendations that we hope will be helpful in achieving improvement.

    The research that underpins the report also inevitably touched on wider issues concerning the care of people at risk of self-harm in custody and suggests some further work that might help improve that care overall.






Related articles

  • Read More

    Prisons told to adjust for older inmates

    Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen says prisons will have to take on "care home and even hospice" roles in future, reports the BBC. He said: "It is remarkable that the fastest growing segment of the prison...

  • Read More

    Charities are best at reducing re-offending

    A report by charity thinktank New Philanthropy Capital has found that 28% of charity projects have helped to reduce reoffending compared to 19% of private companies, reports the Guardian.The report...

  • Read More

    It could become illegal to deny offenders legal aid

    It could become illegal to deny prisoners in England and Wales legal aid so that they are able to effectively challenge the conditions they are held under, rules the court of appeal, reports the...

  • Read More

    Offender’s rehabilitation is delayed by legal aid restrictions

    The court of appeal has been told that thousands of prisoners are being prevented from starting rehabilitation due to them being denied legal aid for parole board hearings, reports the...

  • Read More

    New supported accommodation for ex-offenders in Birmingham

    Trident Reach the People Charity's new Reach House has been built to provide 24-hour supported accommodation for young offenders to help support them getting back into the community after their...

  • Read More

    Staff working with young offenders criticised

    A report by three inspection bodies has said that staff aimed at helping reduce re-offending in young offenders are "too often suspicious of each other" reports the BBC.The report, by the Care...

  • Read More

    Family homes are needed to help offenders re-offending

    A study by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, HM Inspectorate of Probation and Ofsted had found that almost one in five prisoners did not know where they would be living once they left jail, reports Inside...

  • Read More

    Ex-offenders ‘lacking home and job'

    An inspection into resettlement provision for adult prisoners had followed 80 offenders after they left prison. Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said that it found the role of a prisoner's...

  • Read More

    Offenders placed in prison for a day in a bid to cut re-offending

    The Centre for Social Justice has urged the government to look to the US where this approach appears to work. The report has said that a third of people given community sentences re-offended within a...

  • Read More

    Inspection finds offenders with learning disabilities are not being supported

    The inspection looking into the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice systems was conducted by HM Inspectorate of Probation, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary,...

How to fund Housing Support and Social Care Services "Alot of information in a short time, good for me because I travelled a long way. So I feel the journey was worthwhile." C.T - People First Dorset


Briefing Signup