Suicide rate at HMP Manchester 'too high for too long'

HMP Manchester
Image caption Mr Hardwick said the management of the prison needed to "bear down on this issue"

The suicide rate at a Manchester prison has been "too high for too long", inspectors have said.

HMP Manchester has seen seven self-inflicted deaths in less than two years, including that of alleged killer Barry Morrow.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons found staff had accepted the deaths as "the way things were in Manchester".

Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said the prison was not "ensuring lessons were learnt".

He said that while cases of self-harm had decreased from 22 a month in 2009 to 10 a month in 2011, there was "a degree of fatalism in the prison's response" to such incidents.

"Arrangements for caring for prisoners at risk of self-harm or suicide were not poor but there was room for improvement," he said.

"The prison was not active enough in ensuring lessons were learnt from previous cases, both at Manchester and elsewhere, and ensuring they were consistently applied."

He said the prison's management needed to "bear down on this issue with the same determination and skill with which they have successfully addressed so many other issues".

"Just over 20 years ago, Strangeways, as HMP Manchester was generally known, had a notorious reputation," he said.

"It is now completely transformed and in many ways provides a model to which other local prisons should aspire."

The chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, Michael Spurr, said the number of suicides at the prison was "not disproportionate to comparable establishments but there is no complacency".

"The governor and his team will continue to work to further reduce the rate of self-harm and to prevent suicides," he said.

"Every self-inflicted death is a tragedy which impacts not only on families but also on prisoners and prison staff."

He added that he was "pleased that Manchester is assessed as performing well or reasonably well against all four healthy prison tests - safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement".

"This reflects good progress and confirms Manchester is delivering positive outcomes for the public," he said.

Morrow was due to face trial in May over the deaths of Angela Holgate and Alice Huyton, whose strangled bodies were found at Mrs Holgate's home in Southport on 3 December.

He was found hanging in his cell on 9 February and pronounced dead the same day.

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