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On 6 February 2014, the then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling (Conservative), announced the establishment of an independent review into the self-inflicted deaths of 18 to 24 year olds in custody. Lord Harris of Haringey (Labour) was appointed to lead the review—thenceforth known as the Harris Review (the Review). Lord Harris also chairs the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAP). The IAP forms the second tier of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Deaths in Custody.

The Review’s terms of reference stated that:

• The review should take into account deaths of young adults aged 18–24 in prisons and Young Offender Institutions in England and Wales.

• The review should examine cases since the roll out of ACCT [Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork] was completed on 1 April 2007.

• The review should identify whether appropriate lessons have been learned from those deaths and if not, what lessons should be learned/what actions should be taken to prevent further deaths.

The Review was tasked with focusing on vulnerability; information sharing; safety; staff prisoner relationships; family contact; and staff training. It was also required to take into account the views of stakeholders such as prison reform bodies, the Probation Ombudsman; young adults in custody; practitioners; and the affected families. The Review published its report Changing Prisons, Saving Lives: Report of the Independent Review into Self-inflicted Deaths in Custody of 18–24 year olds, on 1 July 2015. The Government has said that it would respond to the report in the autumn.

This Library Note provides a brief summary of the Review’s main findings, presents some statistics on self-inflicted deaths in custody and provides references for further reading on this subject.

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