Prisoners in court cells do not receive adequate checks on their vulnerability, risks or medical problems, the chief inspector of prisons said today.
An inspection of a court custody suite at West London Magistrates’ Court found prisoners were given bare cells with no activity, no natural light or opportunity to exercise.
Prisoners were unable to contact their families directly or even let them know where they were, and shower facilities were “inadequate,” the inspector’s report said.
It also said that while nearly a third of self-inflicted deaths occur within the first seven days of custody, there were insufficient checks in court cells to monitor prisoners’ vulnerability.
At the time of the inspection in June, the cells were being used overnight or for weekend stays to accommodate prisoners locked out of prison because of overcrowding.
Anne Owers, chief inspector of prisons, said the inspection “raised serious concerns” and said court cells should only be used in an emergency on the condition that support for prisoners was in place.
Ower’s report followed the suicides of two prisoners at Birmingham Prison just one hour apart on Saturday morning.
Iranian Saeed Adeli Gholi, 32, and Irish national Gary Franey, 31, were found hanging on two separate wings at the prison. The Prison Service said neither prisoner had been the subject of a current self-harm document.
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