Self-harm in prisons: dominant models and (mis)understandings Dominant constructions of prisoner self-harm:
In 2007 alone, over 22,000 incidents of self-harm were recorded in prisons in England and Wales, involving approximately 7,500 prisoners (just under 10 per cent of the average prison population) (Safer Custody Group and Offender Policy Group 2008). Other estimates have suggested that up to 30 per cent of all prisoners have engaged in some form of self-harm during the course of their incarceration, mostly by cutting themselves (Brooker et al. 2002). These rates are thought to be between four and 12 times higher than those reported in the general population (Meltzer et al. 1999; Towl and Hudson 1997), and are failing to decline (Paton and Jenkins 2005; Safer Custody Group 2007) despite the introduction of several preventative initiatives (see HM Prison Service 2005). In the context of an ever-expanding prison population (de Silva et al. 2006), absolute numbers of self-harming incidents – and self-harming prisoners – are likely to increase further.