Suicide has always been an issue in UK prisons. Year upon year, death figures fluctuate, but a recent report by The Guardian pointed out official figures, stating that suicides increased by 23% last year.
In an attempt to combat this, a number of initiatives are implemented within UK custodial establishments. It’s widely supported that a change in prison culture, better staff understanding, mental health training and care are at the heart of a wider aim to reduce suicide rates.
Contour aims to assist with the initiatives highlighted above by helping to create a ‘psychologically aware’ prison environment. This blog aims to outline the features of Contour’s anti-ligature radiator and guard range to help appropriate specification.
Accommodation And Living Conditions In Prisons
Under current regulations, prisoners, on arrival, will be allocated a room; often called a cell. The cell will be located on a ‘block’ or a ‘wing’ of the prison.
Upon assessment, prisoners deemed to be especially vulnerable will be allocated to a VPU, which stands for ‘vulnerable prisoner’s unit’. Prisoners are actively encouraged to inform staff if they have any thoughts of harming themselves.
To summarise, those most likely to self-harm will be identified and placed in a specialised unit.
Those most vulnerable will be placed in what’s known as a ‘safer cell’. These are primarily designed as an attempt to prevent impulsive acts of self-harm and suicide.
In their Quick-Time Learning Bulletin, The Ministry of Justice points out that safer cells are designed to make the act of self-harm or suicide by ligaturing as difficult as possible. To achieve this, designers are prompted to reduce known ligature points as far as possible by installing specialist anti-ligature furniture and fittings.
Suicide Methods Used By Vulnerable Prisoners
A common misconception about suicide is that it should involve suspending the body from a high ligature point. However, many deaths also occur through asphyxiation or strangulation without suspension of the body and by using a ligature point below head height.
Prisoners with suicidal tendencies will look at every possible opportunity to inflict self-harm on themselves. In a method known as the ‘crocodile roll’, a person will tie rope or cord round a ligature point and then around their neck. The individual will then roll along the floor at a fast pace, eventually cutting off circulation, leading to death.
Common ligature points come from the everyday furniture, fixtures and fittings in our immediate surroundings.
Contour’s Anti-Ligature Radiators And Guards
Contour’s anti-ligature heating solutions minimise the risk of prisoners tying rope or cord around any point of the radiator.
Firstly we begin with the grille design. Contour Anti-Ligature grilles exceed IP3X standards (BS EN 60529). These tests confirm that the ingress of items greater than 2.5mm is impossible.
Secondly, Contour anti-ligature radiators and covers are fitted with internal fixings so that there are no exposed access or ligature points.
Thirdly, all Contour Anti-Ligature radiators and covers are designed with radius corners to minimise risks to further reduce harm.
‘Normal Accommodation’ In Prisons
‘Normal accommodation’ in prisons, a term used by the Ministry of Justice, will not necessarily require the anti-ligature benefits that Contour’s range offers. This is due to the fact that normal accommodation often allows the use of electrical appliances such as kettles, and it is common for inmates to share a cell.
In this instance, Contour’s anti-ligature radiators offer benefits beyond the reduced ligature risks.
For example, the 2mm Zintec steel. This material makes it highly difficult for prisoners to damage the radiator, which may lead to a range of consequences.
With its full casing and grille design, Contour’s anti-ligature radiators and guards make it incredibly difficult for prisoners to hide contraband within the interior. Contraband accounts for over 60% of crime within prisons.
Thirdly, Contour’s anti-ligature heating solutions allow Prison Officers to control individual cell temperature, making prisoners comfortable and alleviating the potential for violent outbursts.
Depending on the layout of the cell block, the heating can be controlled from outside of the cell. This is of particular use if the cell block is on lock-down and access into the cells are off limits.
For more information on how Custody Officers can improve prisoner behaviour, click here.
Choose Contour’s Anti-Ligature Products For Your Safer Cell
Contour has carried out the successful refurbishment of numerous mental health facilities all over the UK with the use of their superior-quality anti-ligature radiators and guards.
To help make your safer cell even safer, contact one of our experts today.
Contour produces a range of innovative, safe surface temperature systems for healthcare, education, mental health, commercial and secure sectors, working in close partnership and collaborating with architects, M&E engineers, NHS Trusts, local authorities, design consultants and contractors to deliver outstanding safe heating solutions.
Contour is the exclusive partner of BioCote® anti-microbial technology for LST and anti-ligature radiators. BioCote® additives reduce bacteria by up to 99.9%. Contour combines an extensive range of colour-paints is with BioCote® for a durable, high-quality finish.
Contour’s heating solutions offer secure, single-person quick access to radiator guard interiors for regular deep cleaning and maintenance. Each year, Contour save the NHS millions of pounds in cleaning costs, therefore delivering.