Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Monday, 14 April 2008 10:08 UK

Huge rise in jail self-harm cases

The number of incidents of self-harm in Lincoln prison has increased by 83% over the past five years, according to figures released by a charity.

The Howard League for Penal Reform said there were 219 reported cases at the jail last year. In 2003 the number of self-harm incidents was 120.

Director of the Howard League, Frances Crook, said the figures were "absolutely horrific".

She said the problem of overcrowding was partly to blame.

Distress levels

Speaking on BBC Radio Lincolnshire, Ms Crook said: "Lincoln, like many prisons around the country, are suffering from gross overcrowding. It puts a huge strain on the staff.

"It means that basically, from lunchtime on Friday through to Monday morning, very little will happen in the prison. So prisoners are locked up for long periods.

"Many of them will have drug addiction or mental health problems so the level of distress is huge and people take it out on themselves."

But a Ministry of Justice spokesman said the rise was due to a new system which meant incidents were now more accurately recorded.

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