At 8.10am on July 28, Rebecca Louise Turner said, "Yes please", when asked if she wanted breakfast in her cell at HMP Low Newton near Durham. By the time the officers brought the tray at 8.50, she was already hanging. At 9.15, she was declared dead. "They told me she'd hanged herself with a belt," says her mother, Janet Wade. "I said, 'That's daft, she didn't take a belt in.' Then I remembered she'd had one on her coat. She used that and hanged herself from the shower."
Turner was 22, and had been in prison for two days. She had been convicted for a non-violent offence, supplying drugs, and was typical both of the women who populate British prisons, and of those dying in them. The numbers are chilling. In 1997, one woman killed herself in prison. Last year, 14 did. This year, 13 have committed suicide so far.