Mother denied access to report on son’s suicide in offender institution

The mother of a 16-year-old boy who died in custody has not been allowed to see a Home Office report into his death.

Yvonne Scholes, whose son Joseph committed suicide at Stoke Heath young offender institution in Shropshire in 2002, said the unpublished report by David Lambert, a former assistant chief inspector at the Social Services Inspectorate, had been withheld from her despite repeated requests.

Last week, prisons minister Gerry Sutcliffe said the report, which had been commissioned in 2004, was handed to the Home Office in October 2005 and was being considered by the government.

But Scholes accused the Home Office of attempting to silence her by refusing to show her the report.

She said: “I have been trying to get the report for the past 18 months, but it appears to be blocked by the Home Office. It’s an absolute scandal as I should have been involved.”

In a parliamentary answer last week to questions from Scholes’ MP, Chris Ruane, Sutcliffe said Lambert had offered to discuss the report with Scholes, but claimed she “did not wish to take up the offer”.

Sutcliffe said the government was considering what action should be taken in response to the report, and that it would also “address the issue of disclosure”.

But Scholes blasted the Home Office for “spinning the truth”.

She said: “It’s outrageous that Gerry Sutcliffe was not fully briefed on such an important case. Inviting me to discuss the report without even showing it to me would just be a PR exercise.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of charity Inquest, criticised the report’s delay and said the process had been conducted in secret.

She said: “It’s disgraceful that Joseph’s family have never been given a meaningful opportunity to participate.”

A Home Office spokesperson said the report would not be disclosed while work was continuing on it.


More from Community Care

Comments are closed.