The Big Question

Should prison staff be made more accountable when people die in custody?

Len Smith – Gypsy activist
The inquiry into the death of Zahid Mubarek made the importance of accountability clear. That accountability needs to go right to the top and there should be policies in place to ensure that it does. But mental health services are also an issue because many prisoners have problems. I know several ex-prisoners and not one of them is the full ticket.

Jean Stogdon – Grand- parents Plus
All of us working in public services are accountable. The issue is whether staff get the support they need to deal with mental instability in the prison population. They are dealing with vulnerable people in a total institution and it is tempting to do the wrong thing. I would be reluctant to criticise staff unless I was sure they had had proper support and training.

Karen Shook  – Disability equality adviser
The people at the top must be accountable. And while the prison officer who put Robert Stewart in the same cell as Zahid was inexperienced, that is no excuse. You also have a duty of care including to the people with mental illness. Stewart had problems that were deemed untreatable, but he should have had special measures.

Joan Scott – Norfolk People First
Staff should be responsible. Inmates should be allowed a reasonable life inside, not being bullied and attacked. I know prison isn’t meant to be a bed of roses and people should be punished for their crimes, but they have human rights and they should be treated as human beings. There should be a public inquiry into the way the prison system works.

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