HMP Hewell slammed for high death rate

By Connie Osborne Wednesday 22 January 2014 Updated: 23/01 12:12

HMP HEWELL is one of the worst prisons for suicides and murders, figures have revealed.

A total of five deaths were recorded at the Tardebigge based prison last year - three suicides, one murder and one death which has not yet been classified.

It was ranked among the worst following Holme House in Stockton-on-Tees, Isle of Wight and Wormwood Scrubs in London.

The figures, which were taken from the Ministry of Justice's records, were released by the Howard League for Penal Reform after close to 200 deaths were reported last year across England and Wales. It was the highest number since 1998.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said each death in custody was a tragedy and almost all of them were preventable.

"The responsibility for an increase in the number of people who take their own lives in prison lies squarely with those who advocate putting behind bars more and more people who do not need to be there," she said.

Professor David Wilson, vice chair of the charity, said the number of deaths reflected deep structural problems about control and order inside jails.

"The prison service has a duty of care to prisoners that this murder rate suggests it cannot deliver," he said.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "We are committed to making sure prisons are safe and secure - this includes reducing the number of deaths and applying strenuous efforts to learn from each one.

"Every death is subject to an investigation by the police and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) as well as a Coroner's inquest."

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