An NHS trust has been ordered by the High Court to provide a bed
for a self-harming young offender who was discharged to prison
despite being considered “high risk” by doctors.
Sarah Palin, 19, was discharged last month from Pinderfields
General Hospital in Wakefield following three days of treatment to
nearby New Hall young offender institution, where she is serving a
five-year sentence for assault and robbery.
Despite being supervised by officers, she continued to
self-harm, and had to be returned to hospital. The Mid-Yorkshire
NHS Trust must now treat her as an in-patient.
The Howard League for Penal Reform, which supported Palin’s
case, said her safety had been placed at serious risk because of
the lack of adequate care she received at the YOI.
The charity’s director of legal affairs, Chris Callender, said
the case was indicative of a broader failing by YOIs to understand
and protect detainees who self-harm.
He said staff at both the hospital and the YOI were concerned
for Palin, and that the failure to provide effective treatment and
support was systemic rather than down to individuals.
“The prison service’s approach to those who self-harm tends to
be punitive,” he said. “They aren’t trained to deal with people
presenting these problems.”