State governments around the country are not only failing to fulfil their obligation to remove obvious hanging points in police and prison cells, they are also building new prisons that do not meet this safety standard, say human rights advocates and prison reformers.

Hanging has been the most frequent cause of deaths in prison custody since 1980, accounting for 40% of prison custody deaths nationwide and 39% in NSW. Between 2001 and 2009, NSW coroners commented on the Department’s failure to remove or screen obvious hanging points -- in breach of Recommendation 165 of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody -- at more than 20 inquests and made formal recommendations urging the elimination of hanging points in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009.