Prison staff responding to self-harm in English Women’s Prisons

19th January 2018, 4.15pm

Room L50, Department of Psychology, Durham University South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE

A fantastic seminar opportunity open to social work students, practitioners, lecturers and anyone else interested, through NESWA.

This paper considers how those who work in prisons are affected by and respond to repetitive self-harm of imprisoned women in English prisons. This paper considers the perspectives of custodial staff working in this area on a day-to-day basis. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with prison staff and examined: the emotional impact of working with and witnessing self-harm incidents, coping strategies used, training and the support available to prison staff. Findings will be presented that indicate the strategies used by staff to cope emotionally with such incidents and these include presenting a ‘façade of coping’, rejecting support and becoming desensitised. It will conclude with accounts of how staff feel they must portray themselves as coping well with self-harm in prison even when they were troubled and emotionally affected by it.

Dr Tammi Walker


Tammi Walker is the Programme Director for MSc in Advanced Practice in Forensic Mental Health, lead for the Forensic Academy and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester. She is the lead author of 'Preventing Self-injury and Suicide in Women's Prisons' (2016: Waterside Press) with Professor Graham Towl and is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology.

She is a registered Chartered Psychologist, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Senior Fellow with Higher Education Academy. Tammi Walker has completed work in this profession for over 14 years and has an advanced level of knowledge in forensic mental health, forensic psychiatry and psychology.

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