In this country we do not give a death sentence, but for everyone who has taken their life in prison that is exactly what they got.

 - Mark Saunders, whose son Dean died in HMP Chelmsford in 2016

Below is a breakdown of deaths in prison in England and Wales by calendar year (January-December) since 2008. These figures do not include deaths in immigration removal centres (IRCs) and immigration detention centres, but do include deaths of people held in prisons as immigration detainees and those being transported by or in the custody of prisoner escort services.

Figures for the current calendar year may be incomplete as they are based on INQUEST casework and monitoring. The data for previous calendar years are derived from official sources. For data going back to 1978, visit the Ministry of Justice website (see Table: Deaths in prison custody 1978-2008).

See also: deaths in women's prisons

INQUEST also monitors the deaths of children and young people and black and minority ethnic people in prison. We are currently in the process of reviewing and updating our statistics on these pages. If you require this information please get in touch with us.


The latest statistics released by the Ministry of Justice in October 2019 show that there are four self-inflicted deaths in prison every week, which continues the historically high levels of self-inflicted deaths as seen over the past six years. They also show record high levels of self-harm, up 22% to 60,594 in the 12 months to June 2019.

These statistics are more than numbers. They represent real people in extreme distress, leading to preventable deaths and traumatic bereavement for families. As a society we should not accept this endless cycle of systemic neglect and political indifference. Bereaved families deserve more than repetitive platitudes that ‘lessons will be learned’, when they consistently are not. The lack of accountability for these deaths, and the abject failure of the system to prevent them, is a moral and political disgrace". 

Deborah Coles, Executive Director of INQUEST

Read more about INQUEST's latest response to the 'Safety in Custody' statistics. 


Deaths in prison (England & Wales) 2009-date
Year Self-inflicted Non self- inflicted Other non- natural causes Restraint Homicide Awaiting classification Total
2019 73 144 1 0 2 55 275*
2018 92 176 17 0 4 38 327
2017 71 193 19 0 3 6 292
2016 122 210 16 0 3 3 354
2015 89 145 12 1 8 0 255
2014 89 145 5 1 3 0 243
2013 76 130 5 0 4 0 215
2012 61 123 8 0 0 0 192
2011 58 120 10 0 2 0 190
2010 58 125 12 1 1 0 197
2009 61 104 4 0 0 0 169
Totals: 850

1615

109 3 30 102

2,709

* 2019 statistics: Figures for the current calendar year may be incomplete as they are based on INQUEST casework and monitoring.

Figures last updated 5 December 2019.