A WOMEN’S prison near Huddersfield has one of the highest inmate self-harming records in the UK.
New Hall Prison at Flockton is second only to a Gloucester jail for the number of inmates who harm themselves.
Last year there were 1,193 incidents of self-injury among inmates in New Hall.
Since 2003 there have been 6,338.
Figures by the Howard League for Penal Reform show a national rise of 37%. This is almost four times the rise in the prison population, which was just over 9.5%.
But experts believe many incidents of self- injury go unreported and unnoticed.
Gareth Sands took over as New Hall governor last September. He would not comment on the story and referred all calls to the Justice Ministry.
But in an interview with the Examiner last October he said the risk of suicide and self-harm was at the top of the agenda.
He said: “Many women held at New Hall have experienced sexual, physical and emotional abuse in early life and this is sometimes disclosed for the first time while in prison.
“Such women are characteristically chronic self-harmers.”
New Hall is a closed prison which holds some 443 adult women prisoners, young offenders and juveniles on detention and training orders.
A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “Most women in prison already have a history of self-harm, due to negative life experiences that we know increase the likelihood of them harming themselves.
“We are focusing on those identified as being most vulnerable. Prison staff save hundreds of lives every year by speedy interventions and long-term work with self-harmers.
“The introduction of a more thorough reporting system in prisons has led to an increase in recorded incidents of self-harm.
“Incidents range from the construction of a ligature or a minor scratch to rare serious incidents needing hospital treatment.
“Some 1% of prisoners are responsible for a quarter of all self-harm incidents.
“The transfer or release of a small number of serial self-harmers can affect the figures to a great extent, which may explain any significant rise or fall in the number of annual recorded incidents at individual prisons.”
But Frances Crook, director of the Howard League, said: “This shocking rise in self-injury is far above what might be expected as we lock up ever-increasing numbers of men, women and children whose mental health problems and addictions will never be properly treated within our flooded and failing jails.
“When men, women and children assault their own bodies it is not a cry for help; it is a scream.”