Ombudsman investigates “higher than anticipated” prison deaths

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman opened 224 fatal incident
investigations over the past year, a number which was “higher
than anticipated”, its annual report says, writes
Maria Ahmed
The investigations included 94 cases of suicide including the
deaths of young offenders Adam Rickwood, 14, at Hassockfield secure
training centre, the youngest person ever to die in custody, and
15-year-old Gareth Myatt at Rainsbrook secure training
The Ombudsman also investigated six deaths in the immigration
service – three linked to suicide, two of natural causes and
one where the cause was unknown.
Ombudsman Stephen Shaw said the deaths illustrated “the
unfair demands placed upon an already overburdened prison system in
caring for many thousands of vulnerable prisoners, many with long
histories of alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness, and previous
episodes of self-harm and suicide attempts.”
Shaw highlighted the case of a young man who died from a drug
overdose alone on a deserted railway station as the “most
upsetting” case he had reviewed.
Shaw said the man had been supervised by the probation services on
a drug treatment and testing order. The Home Office said the
details of the case were confidential.
The report said that some of the investigations revealed
“very poor” practice in a number of prisons.
Shaw raised particular concern over 99 deaths from natural causes
among older prisoners, which he attributed in part to the
increasing average age of the prison population and longer
He said the deaths raised questions about whether the prisoners had
received adequate healthcare.
The report also said 4,385 prisoner complaints were received
between 2004-5, representing a 15 per cent rise on the previous
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