The mother of a 16-year-old boy who died at Stoke Heath Young Offender Institution has criticised the YOI for failing to improve five years on from his death.
Yvonne Bailey, whose son Joseph Scholes was found hanging in his cell in 2002, spoke out as a report raised concerns over high levels of violence and a lack of care for mentally-ill inmates at the Shropshire institution for 15- to 21-year-olds.
Large numbers of mentally ill prisoners had long waits for secure unit beds, said the report by the Independent Monitoring Board, a statutory lay inspectorate, published last week. It also raised concerns over the high number of assaults and said that 18 to 21-year-olds also experienced “unacceptable” conditions.
The findings echoed those of an independent report into Joseph’s death last year that identified a lack of secure in-patient psychiatric beds as a major problem. Joseph was moved from a high- to low-surveillance cell at the time of his death despite having a history of self-harm, his inquest found.
Responding to the IMB report, Bailey told Community Care that she believed conditions had declined. “Five years on and despite a damning inquest into Joseph’s death, young prisoners are having to resort to rioting to get their message over to the outside world,” she said.
In September, up to 20 inmates at Stoke Heath were involved in a riot as a report by the chief inspector of prisons found the YOI had made “little progress” since its last inspection. The director general of the prison service said further improvements were necessary.
Bailey is taking her fight for a public inquiry into Joseph’s death to the European Court of Human Rights.
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