Prison staff and women prisoner's views on self-harm; their implications for service delivery and development: A qualitative study.

Cassandra Kenning, Jayne Cooper, Vicky Short, Jennifer Shaw, Kathryn Abel, Carolyn Chew-Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Rates of self-harm are high among women in prison in the UK. This is the first study to compare the views and attitudes of prison staff and women prisoners and to look at the effects of these attitudes on prisoner/staff relationships. AIMS: To explore understanding of self-harm among women prisoners, prison officers and health-care staff and how their perceptions might influence service provision and development. METHOD: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with women prisoners who self-harm and with staff at a women's prison. Data were analysed thematically. RESULTS: Prison officers often attributed motives to self-harm such as 'manipulation' and 'attention-seeking', whereas descriptions by women prisoners, prison governors and health-care staff suggested explanations in affect regulation or self-punishment. CONCLUSIONS: Differences between prison officers and other staff working in the prison in their understanding of self-harm by women prisoners may lie in training differences, but there may be other explanations such as self-protection/coping strategies. More training and support for officers may result in improved staff-prisoner relationships and thus, safer service provision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-284
Number of pages10
JournalCriminal behaviour and mental health : CBMH
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010

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