A high rate of suicides has been accepted by some staff as an accepted fact at Manchester Prison, where self-inflicted deaths have been too high for too long, according to an inspection report out today.
Seven people killed themselves in two years at the prison formerly known as Strangeways, the chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick said – a higher death rate than at similar jails. The report found that another 20 suicide and self-harm cases were open at any one time.
The report was compiled before the death of Barry Morrow, who was found hanged in his cell at the prison earlier this month while awaiting trial accused of murdering his landlady, Angela Holgate, and her mother, Alice Huyton, in Southport, Merseyside.
Mr Hardwick said: "The level of self-inflicted deaths has been too high for too long and should be no more accepted as an inevitable feature of the prison today than any of the other grim aspects of its past." He added: "There was a degree of fatalism in the prison's response to this – that was the way things were in Manchester, I was told."
The inspectors also found that the number of self-harm incidents had dropped from an average of 22 a month in 2009 to 12 a month in 2010 and 10 a month last year. Mr Hardwick said there was room for improvement in the way prisoners at risk of self-harming were looked after.
The prison was rebuilt and renamed after the worst riot in penal history in 1990 when the prison became a symbol of the ills of an overcrowded prison system. The inspector said the prison had been transformed and in many ways was a model to which other local prisons should aspire.