The Police National Computer should be available to prison staff to help prevent deaths in custody, a report has said.
Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody published its annual report last week (21 September) and said greater information sharing is paramount when it comes to identifying vulnerable prisoners.
Although many of last years' 600 custody deaths were from natural causes, the Forum says there is work to be done to prevent those who might be at risk from self-harm or vulnerability.
The report says, "It is the Forum's view that access to the PNC by prison staff would help them to make better risk assessments.
"In addition, by allowing the Prison Service to enter data, the police would also be more aware of safety issues when the person concerned is next dealt with by police officers."
It also stressed the importance of increased communication and a more joined-up approach.
"The Forum's work over its first 18 months has demonstrated the need for a more robust and joined-up approach to information sharing between agencies to ensure that important information about people who may be at risk is shared quickly and accurately between them."
The forum said the Prisoner Escort Record - often the only way of transferring information about risk of vulnerability from one agency to another - needs to be developed.
A spokesman from the National Police Improvement Agency, which runs the PNC, said, "The prison service has had the ability to access the PNC since the late 1990s, but not every prison chooses to access it.
"We are open to working further with the prison service to extend access as and when they require it."