Nineteen prison staff were named and shamed yesterday in the public inquiry report into the murder of Zahid Mubarek in 2000 by his racist cellmate Robert Stewart at Feltham Young Offender Institution.
Home secretary John Reid immediately responded to the report, saying the government has already agreed to 50 of its 88 recommendations “at least in principle”.
Inquiry chair Mr Justice Keith described a “bewildering catalogue of shortcomings, both individual and systemic, at Feltham”
But the YOI was “required to do too much, with too many prisoners, too few staff, and insufficient resources,” he said.
People named in the report include Niall Clifford, governor of Feltham at the time of the killing, and Christopher Kinealy, a psychiatric nurse who met Stewart at Altcourse prison four months before the murder and diagnosed an “untreatable” personality disorder and recommended no further action.
As well as Feltham, other YOIs where Stewart was held are found wanting, including Hindley, Stoke Heath, Onley and Werrington. Mubarek was murdered during his first spell in custody.
Chair of the Prison Officers’ Association Colin Moses said that naming individuals is the “correct” thing to do.
Zahid Mubarek’s family today called for an apology from David Blunkett, home secretary at the time of the murder.
Mr Justice Keith said much could still be done “to reduce the likelihood of prisoners being attacked in their cells, both in young offender institutions and in adult prisons”.
The inquiry finds that “malevolence” by staff was not a factor in the tragedy.
But there was a “catastrophic breakdown in communications, not just between one prison and another, but also within individual prisons”.
The report makes 88 recommendations covering risk assessment of mentally ill prisoners, sharing cells, information-sharing, prison staff training, and the disclosure of psychiatric reports by courts to prisons.
It also asks the Home Office to consider introducing the concept of “institutional religious intolerance”.
“Treating prisoners with decency may not be a vote-winner,” concluded Mr Justice Keith.
“Societies are judged by the way they treat their prisoners, and if more resources are needed to ensure that our prisons are truly representative of the civilised society which we aspire to be, nothing less will do.”
The Youth Justice Board today said it does not intend to comment on the report.
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