Stoke Heath death inquiry unlikely

A public inquiry into the death of Joseph Scholes at Stoke Heath
Young Offenders Institution is unlikely to go ahead despite calls
from campaigners and peers, it emerged last week.

Speaking at a House of Lords debate on the issue, Lord Bassam of
Brighton said that, however sympathetic the government might be,
there were no plans to hold a public inquiry into Joseph’s

The inquest will resume later this month and more than 50 witnesses
will be called to give evidence. “This in itself will be a thorough
inquiry providing the opportunity for independent public scrutiny,
and it is hoped that many of Yvonne Scholes’s questions will be
answered,” said Bassam, the Home Office spokesperson.

Despite recommendations that Joseph be placed in a local authority
secure children’s home to serve his two-year detention and training
order, he was placed at Stoke Heath in Shropshire in March 2002.
Less than 10 days later, he was found dead in his cell.

Lord Dholakia, who led the debate, said the case raised questions
about sentencing practice, the treatment and care of children in
the criminal justice system, and any systemic failings that may
have contributed to Joseph’s case.

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