There has long been concern about the number of people who die in custody in England and Wales, particularly in prisons or police stations. The concern is obviously heightened when people die either at their own hand, or at the hands of others. Yet there has been selective critical gaze, and people who die whilst under probation or community supervision have been neglected (Phillips, J, Gelsthorpe, L, Padfield, N., Criminology & Criminal Justice,
, 2017). Given that there is evidence to suggest that contact with the criminal justice system in non-custodial settings is associated with higher mortality rates than those found in the general population, such neglect is concerning. This article explores data which has been published since 2016 by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) on the deaths of offenders whilst under supervision. We draw on data which is collected by probation providers and collated by HMPPS to present original analyses, with particular focus on deaths by suicide. We calculate rates of self-inflicted deaths and rate ratios with the general population and the prison population. The suicide rates for all groups within the sample are higher than the general population. We explore the utility of the data in helping us to understand the trends regarding people dying whilst under probation supervision with a particular focus on suicide, and highlight areas where the dataset is deficient. We conclude that whilst the dataset can be used to calculate headline rates of suicide it raises many questions in terms of the extant risks that people on probation face, and we explore ways in which the data can be used more fully to understand this important social and public health issue. We consider ways in which the dataset could be matched with other datasets in future research so that health issues might be brought into the analysis, and reflect on other research methodologies which would add depth to our understanding of why the mortality rate amongst people in contact with the criminal justice system is higher than in the general population.
— Read on healthandjusticejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40352-018-0072-7