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Prayer image prayer Guide for Parilament and the Nation

Suicide: 20-26 August

Last month, a report by the National Audit Office revealed record rates of suicide and self-harm amongst prisoners: incidents of self-harm increased by 73% between 2012 and 2016, and there were 120 self-inflicted deaths in prison in 2016, the highest figure on record. The report claimed that a reduction in funding and cuts to staff numbers are both factors in the deterioration of prisoners’ mental well-being.

Research has consistently shown that a combination of issues including use of isolation, low staff-to-inmate ratios, and poor prison conditions contribute to prisoner suicides. A recent joint analysis by the Centre for Mental Health and the Howard League for Penal Reform ("Preventing Prison Suicide") stated that the rise in prisoner suicides corresponds directly to cuts to prison budgets and staff (which has allowed an increase in violence and corresponding decrease in safety within prisons), and to a rising prison population and overcrowding.

Earlier this month, the chair of the Parole Board warned of the ‘unacceptably high’ level of suicide among prisoners serving indeterminate sentences with no release date (3,300 people in England and Wales are still serving Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences, despite their abolition in 2012) and called on the Government to introduce urgent changes to "get a grip" on the problem.

PRAY for prisoners currently suffering with mental health issues, particularly if they are self-harming or have suicidal tendencies. Pray for prison staff working in often very difficult circumstances. Pray for Government ministers to address the issue of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences. Pray for wisdom for the Justice Secretary, David Lidington.

News of the week

  1. This weeked (Sat 26 August to Monday 28 August) thousands of people will attend the Notting Hill Carnival in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the site of the Grenfell Tower fire in June. As a mark of respect to the people who died, all bands and carnival floats will shut off their music as they pass the site of the disaster.

PRAY for safety for all those attending or participating in the Notting Hill Carnival this weekend. Pray for security at the event and for the police as they work to keep people safe. Pray for all who are still affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

  1. Earlier this week, a US Navy guided missile destroyer (USS John S McCain) collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore. Search and rescue efforts are underway to find 10 missing American sailors. This is the fourth crash involving a US Navy ship this year and the second collision in the Pacific within two months.

PRAY for the missing American sailors to be found. Pray for a robust investigation by the US Navy into the recent incidents and for measures to be taken to prevent any further collisions. Pray for US Navy personnel serving in the Asia Pacific region at a time of heightened tension between the US and North Korea. Pray for UK service personnel currently serving overseas.

  1. On Monday, Spanish police shot dead the man they believe to have been the driver of the van which killed 13 people and injured more than 100 others in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, last weekend. The 12 members of the terror cell which carried out last weekend's attacks are believed to have been radicalised by an Imam in their home town of Ripoll, north of Barcelona.

PRAY for the families and friends of those who died in the attacks last weekend. Pray for European security and intelligence services as they investigate the recent attacks and consider how to work together to safeguard communities and combat terrorism. Pray for measures to prevent the radicalisation of young people through local communities, social media and the internet.

  1. BREXIT: UK judges have called for the Government to "spell out" how the UK judiciary should handle decisions made by the European court (ECJ) after Brexit. The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill states that UK courts do not have to take into account decisions of the ECJ after the UK has left the EU, but historic judgements would remain binding on UK courts. The Government's position had been that the ECJ's jurisdiction over the UK will end once Britain leaves. A Government paper published this week reiterated that position in relation to the ECJ's "direct jurisdiction", but set out a range of options which suggested the ECJ could continue to influence UK affairs after Brexit.

PRAY for clarity from the UK Government and EU negotiators on matters of legal jurisdiction which affect many areas of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, including any future UK-EU trade partnership, legal disputes that cross between the UK and other member states, and disputes regarding citizen's rights. Pray for God to bring clarity to the complexities of the EU negotiations. Pray for wise and discerning advisors to assist the Government in their negotiations.

Suicide: 20-26 August

Please use these prayers both in your individual and church prayer times to hold the nation and its leaders before God in prayer and with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

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