Category Archives: Vulnerable
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, in a report on Hindley Prison published today (25th April) says:
HM Young Offender Institution Hindley is a large establishment just outside Wigan with the capacity to hold 440 boys and young people aged 15 to 18. At the time of this inspection it was only just over one-third full.
First impressions are of a pretty bleak, prison-like environment and the obvious youth of many of those held. However, the inspection found commendable efforts to soften the environment, and some determined efforts to address some of the damage that had been done to these young people before they arrived at Hindley and reduce the damage they do to others. The arrangements for a young person’s first few days at Hindley were particularly good – although, as at other establishments, needlessly undermined by the NOMS requirement that every new arrival should be strip searched when they first arrived.
Many of the young people arriving at Hindley had poor previous experience of education – almost half told us they were 14 or younger when they last left school; nine out of 10 had been excluded; eight out of 10 had played truant. So it is a tribute to the establishment that the quality of education and activities was good, and that young people made good progress and obtained qualifications. It was very welcome that speech and language therapy was available when required. Standards of behaviour were much better than that seen in some schools. More could have been done to enable young people to get real work experience in the community, and it was frustrating that half left Hindley without a confirmed education or training place – threatening to waste the progress they had made there.
In other respects, the work to prepare young people for release was good, and better than we normally see. Few young people left without suitable accommodation to go to, and there was good support with family relationships, substance misuse and health issues, and managing money. Effective work was carried out throughout the sentence to address young people’s offending behaviour. The Willow unit provided necessary intensive support to a small number of young people with the most complex needs, although the effectiveness of the therapeutic approach adopted risked being undermined by the length of time these young people spent locked in their cells.
Although there had been efforts in some wings to make the environment more appropriate for young people, in others it remained bleak and austere. The establishment was generally clean and tidy and most cells were in reasonable condition. Most young people had about nine hours out of their cells each day and a decent amount of association time, although insufficient opportunity to work off energy exercising in the open air. There were concerns that imminent changes to the core day arising from a central directive might reduce time out of cell at Hindley – this would be very regrettable.
Relationships between staff and young people were generally good and some young people spoke very highly of the officers who dealt with them. I witnessed examples of some real kindness and effective care – one member of staff had somehow got a horse into the establishment for one very troubled and challenging boy from the Traveller community to care for. As he worked on the horse, she worked on the boy – to much greater effect than more conventional interventions might have achieved. However, we also heard persistent, consistent and credible complaints about the abusive behaviour of a small number of officers. The governor had taken robust action when inappropriate conduct by staff had been identified. These generally good relationships were underpinned by sound processes. Management of diversity and complaints was good, and health care and the chaplaincy both provided very good services.
Nevertheless, despite these real strengths, Hindley was not sufficiently safe. On average, there was a fight or assault almost every day, and some of these were very serious. We were not assured the establishment had an effective grip on what was happening. The number of perpetrators and victims on violence reduction or support measures was not consistent with the number of incidents, and data were not used effectively to identify and address patterns and trends. Investigations into some alleged bullying incidents were not sufficiently rigorous. The number of adjudications and lesser ‘minor reports’ were both much higher than we see elsewhere, with 1,800 adjudications in the first 10 months of 2012, and almost 3,000 minor reports in the same period. Some of these incidents could have been better dealt with more informally.
Use of force was also very high, although much did not involve full control and restraint. Staff sometimes put themselves in harm’s way to prevent injury to young people. Governance of the use of force had improved after some young people had been badly hurt two years previously. The segregation unit was cramped and run-down, and although relationships with staff were generally good, the regime was inadequate, especially for the few young people held there for lengthy periods.
Like all juvenile prisons, Hindley held some very unhappy young people. There had been a very sad self-inflicted death at the beginning of 2012, and the establishment had taken early action as a result of the findings of an investigation into the incident. The number of self-harm incidents remained high (although relatively low level) and, despite the reduction in the population, the number of incidents each month had grown by 18% over the previous year. However, we were not assured that the drive to learn and implement lessons from the death in 2012 was being sustained, and some staff were not clear about their responsibilities in this area.
We were concerned that the sheer volume of violent and self-harm incidents threatened to be overwhelming. For the most part, individual incidents were dealt with well but there needed to be more complete strategic oversight of the entire picture that made the links between bullying and self-harm and kept responses to both perpetrators and victims under review. The safeguarding committee with its external membership appeared to be best placed to do this.
Even only one-third full, and despite very good work, HMYOI Hindley illustrates the difficulty such establishments have in discharging their most fundamental responsibility – keeping the young people they hold safe. There has been a suggestion that as the number of young people in custody declines, those who continue to be held will be a more concentrated mix of the most challenging and unhappy young people. Other recent inspections of YOIs have also identified establishments having much greater difficulty in keeping young people safe.
The YJB, ministers and other policymakers should consider this very carefully as they plan the future development of the youth custody estate.
Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national prisoners newspaper for England and Wales said it was a ‘deeply troubling report’.
“No one reading this deeply troubling report can fail to be dismayed by the seriously high levels of self-harm and the high levels of use of force by staff.
“The fact that some rogue officers appear to be abusing prisoners is a matter which the police should be required to investigate – Hindley holds some very damaged young boys and young adults, it is vital they are not subject to physical abuse by staff who think they can get away with it.”
Comedian Freddie Starr has been rearrested over further allegations of sexual offences.
The entertainer answered bail today and was arrested for a second time over additional claims.
Scotland Yard said that a man in his sixties had been “further arrested on suspicion of sexual offences in connection with further allegations made to Operation Yewtree”.
The investigation is the national inquiry sparked after allegations of abuse were made against Jimmy Savile.
It has been split into three strands – allegations against Savile, those against Savile and others, and those against others.
Starr was originally arrested under the “Savile and others” strand, but the re-arrest was not linked to Savile.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
INQUEST INTO THE DEATH OF MELANIE BESWICK AT HMP SEND TO BEGIN THURSDAY 11 APRIL 2013
Thursday 11 April 2013 at 10am
Before HM Coroner for Surrey Richard Travers
Sitting at HG Wells Conference Centre, Church Street East, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6HJ
Melanie Beswick was 34 years old when she died on 21 August 2010. She was found hanging from a ligature made from shoelaces attached to the window of her cell in HMP Send.
In March 2009 Melanie was given a nine month prison sentence for fraud. This was her first offence. Melanie had a long history of depression and self harm, and self harmed on several occasions during her first period of imprisonment. Confiscation proceedings were brought and following her release Melanie was ordered to repay the money she took within 6 months or serve a further 12 month prison sentence in default. Short of selling the family home and making her husband and two young children homeless Melanie could not repay the money in time and was sent back to prison by the court.
She self-harmed on several occasions during her imprisonment and was subject to an ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody, and Teamwork – the system used for prisoners who are at risk of self harm) on three occasions. She had also reported bullying on several occasions, and expressed fear that she would not be able to repay the money and so face further imprisonment. On the day of her death, she had been found unresponsive and motionless in her cell and, despite no obviously signs of physical ill health, was taken to hospital, where she became agitated and tried to harm herself several times. The doctor eventually discharged her but instructed that she was at high risk of self harm and needed constant observation and mental health input.
Despite this, on Melanie’s return from hospital that afternoon the duty governor decided that she did not need an ACCT or monitoring. Apparently unknown to him another officer had already begun the process but she was only placed on hourly observations. At about 7.45pm Melanie asked to speak to a Listener (prisoners trained by the Samaritans to support other prisoners in distress) but was told to wait because the on-duty Listeners were busy with other prisoners. At 8.35pm, she was found hanging in her cell and despite attempts to resuscitate her was pronounced dead at 10.02pm at hospital.
Her family hopes the inquest will address the following issues:
- · What HMP Send should have known about Melanie’s medical history
- · The ACCT process
- · The medical care Melanie received in HMP Send and her undiagnosed underlying mental health condition
- · How the prison dealt with Melanie’s allegations of bullying
- · Information Melanie was given about her sentence
- · The care she received at hospital on the morning of the day of her death
- · Information breakdown between the hospital and the prison
- · The decision of the Deputy Governor not to instigate ACCT monitoring
- · The Listener scheme
- · The provision of first aid by prison staff
Melanie’s husband, two young daughters, mother and step-father are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Jo Eggleton of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Jesse Nicholls of Tooks Chambers.
Notes to editors:
For further information and a photograph of Melanie, please contact Hannah Ward, Communications Manager at INQUEST on 020 7263 1111 / 07972 492 230 or email@example.com
INQUEST is an independent charity that provides a general telephone advice, support and information service to any bereaved person facing an inquest and a free, in-depth specialist casework service on deaths in custody/state detention or involving state agents and works on other cases that also engage article 2 of the ECHR and/or raise wider issues of state and corporate accountability.
INQUEST’s policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and we work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths.
Please refer to INQUEST the organisation in all capital letters in order to distinguish it from the legal hearing.
Vicky Pryce’s solicitor questioned whether she should have been treated as a victim rather than a defendant as he indicated an appeal was still being considered.
Robert Brown also cautioned critics of the “marital coercion” defence unsuccessfully used by Pryce that they could leave victims of domestic abuse defenceless if it was removed.
Economist Pryce was convicted last week of perverting the course of justice by taking speeding points for then husband Chris Huhne, the former cabinet minister.
Both began eight-month jail sentences on Monday.
The case has led to widespread demands for the “arcane” coercion defence – which applies only to wives – to be scrapped.
Mr Brown said the law needs updating, but he told BBC Radio 4′s Today: “Those responsible for that should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are still cases where there are women in relationships where they are vulnerable and they may be put under pressure to commit crimes and they need the state to be able to defend them rather than just prosecute them.”
He went on: “We shouldn’t forget … that it is Government policy and it is part of the CPS policy, that domestic violence is not confined to physical violence; it includes the application of pressure, specifically, and coercion, specifically.
“When you have someone in the sort of position Vicky Pryce was in in this trial, what’s the state to do about it?
“Is it to regard her as a victim of violence … or should she be seen as a defendant? That’s a conundrum for public policy which needs to be sorted out.”
Mr Brown said a decision on whether to appeal against the conviction would await examination of the full transcripts of the retrial which were not yet available.
“That’s something which we will actively consider,” he said.
Her sentence was “in keeping with the best guess one might have” based on the very few guidelines available, he said.
“Whether or not it’s a humane sentence is a much wider question.”
He had not seen his client in Holloway Prison so was unable to say how she was coping with life behind bars, he told the programme.
But Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said he thought she was the author of her own misfortune:
“I’m sorry but I do find it hard to be too sympathetic with Vicky Pryce – of course there are vulnerable women locked in abusive relationships, and they rightly need protection, but I don’t believe for a single second that Vicky Pryce was one of them; and neither come to that did the jury.
“She brought all of this on herself, if ever there was an example of a Pyrrhic victory this is it with bells on.”
Campaigners have called for urgent action in the wake of a report into the deaths of three children, including one in West Yorkshire, who apparently took their own lives while in custody.
The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman looked at the deaths of Alex Kelly, 15, at Cookham Wood in Kent; Jake Hardy, 17, at Hindley in Wigan, Greater Manchester, and Ryan Clark, 17, at Wetherby, West Yorkshire.
The report by Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen found that two of the boys had suffered bullying and two had refused to take medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder before they died.
Deborah Coles, co-director of campaign group INQUEST, said: “We welcome this bulletin, but sadly the issues it raises are not unique and are a depressingly familiar feature of previous deaths.
“There have been 34 deaths of children in prison custody since 1990. We have helped many of their families through inquest after inquest raising the same issues and, despite promises of change, the deaths continue.
“There is an urgent need to learn from the failings that cost all these children their lives. The Government needs to act.
“An independent, holistic inquiry, where these issues are examined in the context of the entire system of detention for children, is long overdue. It’s time to break the cycle of harm and death.”
The report said that two of the teenagers should have been moved to specialist units at the Young Offenders Institutions (YOI).
It found: “The three children were extremely vulnerable but, following the court decision to place them in custody, there does not seem to have been sufficiently detailed consideration given to the best placement to help manage their vulnerability.
“In two of the cases, when it became clear that the boys were struggling to cope with a normal YOI regime, they were not moved to specialist units within the YOIs despite alternatives being available.”
Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said: “These three were children, young boys, in the care of the State which simply ignored their needs.
“These were damaged teenagers, who needed help and support, help and support which was available but which they were denied – its quite shocking.
“Forget what they had done, they were all the someone’s sons, imagine how you would feel if they were yours.”
Inspectors who visited a prison in Gloucestershire where concerns had been raised before found that it seemed to have “stood still”, they said in a report published.
Gloucester Prison has many problems to address, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, as he introduced the report of an unannounced inspection.
Inspectors were concerned during their visit in July to find that the environment for vulnerable prisoners at the Category B local prison was poor, and there was evidence that they experienced abuse and intimidation from other prisoners.
Segregated prisoners were not continually supervised, though this was mitigated by low numbers and generally brief stays, while the accommodation was among the poorest in the prison system, and prisoners did not have enough time out of their cells.
There was not enough for prisoners to do and inspectors found well over half of the population locked up during the working day.
Mr Hardwick said in his introduction to the report: “Gloucester is one of the older establishments in the prison system, with a poor infrastructure and situated in a cramped inner-city location.”
He said there were relatively few incidents of recorded violence, despite underdeveloped structures to confront anti-social behaviour, and the incidence of self-harm was similarly low, though there had been two self-inflicted deaths since the last inspection.
But he added: “The treatment of vulnerable prisoners remained a significant concern. The environment where they lived was poor and their regime very limited, and there was evidence that they experienced abuse and intimidation from other prisoners.
“The experience for vulnerable prisoners who had to be held on mainstream locations, if numbers required it, was even worse.
“The treatment of segregated prisoners was similarly concerning – this high-risk group were not even continually supervised, although this was mitigated by low numbers and generally brief stays.”
Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales: read it here
Eleven members of staff caught on camera abusing patients at a scandal-hit private hospital are due to be sentenced today.
The staff – nine support workers and two nurses – will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court.
Two support workers, Wayne Rogers, 32, and Alison Dove, 25, have accepted they will be jailed while barristers representing many of the other defendants asked for the “inevitable” prison sentences to be suspended.
The shocking treatment of severely disabled people at the Winterbourne View private hospital in Hambrook, South Gloucestershire, was exposed by BBC1′s Panorama. Their undercover five-week investigation, broadcast in June last year, recorded secret footage of patients being abused by carers.
A serious case review in August condemned the hospital’s owner, Castlebeck, for putting profits before care. The damning independent report heavily criticised health regulators, police, social services and the NHS for failing to spot the warning signs about the abuse at the now closed Winterbourne View.
A total of 11 former staff have admitted between them 38 charges of either neglect or ill treatment of people with severe learning difficulties. The 11 defendants, who will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court by Judge Neil Ford QC, The Recorder of Bristol, are:
:: Wayne Rogers, 32, of Purton Close, Bristol, who pleaded guilty to nine charges of ill-treating Louisa Deville, Simon Tovey and Simone Blake. He denied a charge of ill-treating Louise Bisset, which was accepted by the prosecution and he did not face trial; Alison Dove, 25, of Chipperfield Drive, Bristol, who pleaded guilty to seven charges of ill-treating Miss Guilford, Miss Bisset and Miss Blake. She pleaded not guilty to ill-treating Mr Tovey, which was accepted by the prosecution and she did not face trial.
:: Graham Doyle, 26, of Brackendene, Bradley Stoke, Bristol, pleaded guilty to seven charges of ill-treating Miss Blake. However, he denied charges of wilfully neglecting Lorraine Guilford and ill-treating Mr Tovey. The prosecution accepted the pleas and he did not face trial; Jason Gardiner, 43, of Mellent Avenue, Bristol, admitted two charges of ill-treating Louisa Deville and Mr Tovey; Michael Ezenagu, 29, of Malabar Court, India Way, Shepherds Bush, west London, pleaded guilty to two counts of ill-treating Miss Blake. He denied two further of ill-treating the same patient and a third similar charge against Mr Tovey. The prosecution accepted the pleas and he did not face trial.
:: Danny Brake, 27, of Beechen Drive, Fishponds, Bristol, also pleaded guilty to two charges of ill-treating Miss Blake and Mr Tovey; Charlotte Cotterell, 22, of Melrose Avenue, Yate, Bristol, pleaded guilty to one charge of ill-treating Miss Blake. She denied a second charge against the same victim, which was accepted by the prosecution and she did not face trial; Holly Draper, 24, of The Old Orchard, Mangotsfield, Bristol, pleaded guilty to two charges of ill-treating Miss Blake.
:: Neil Ferguson, 28, of Emersons Green, Bristol, pleaded guilty to one count of ill-treating Miss Blake. He denied a second charge of ill-treating the same patient, which the prosecution accepted and he did not face trial; Sookalingum Appoo, 59, of Dial Lane, Bristol, admitted three charges of wilfully neglecting Miss Blake; and Kelvin Fore, 33, of Ellesmere Walk, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to one charge of wilfully neglecting Miss Blake but denied a second allegation against the same person, which was accepted by the prosecution and he did not face trial.
Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales: read it here
Young people in custody are often suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders, according to a newly-published report by the universities of Exeter and Birmingham.
Experts have carried out a review of published evidence which shows youngsters who have been in trouble with the law tend to have more of these problems than the wider population.
Researchers found that young offenders were four times more likely to have a specific reading difficulty – around 43% to 57% compared to 10% of the wider population.
Many of the youngsters have a reading age below that of criminal responsibility, which is 10 in England and Wales. The vast majority of young offenders (60% to 90%) have speech and language difficulties and a quarter may have a learning disability.
Up to three in four young people who commit crimes suffer from the effects of a traumatic brain injury, such as from a direct blow to the head, penetration of the skull or traffic collision. This compares to fewer than one in four of the general population.
The review was carried out for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC), which called for earlier recognition of, and vital improvements in, the treatment and support of young people with neurological conditions.
The OCC’s report – Nobody made the connection: The prevalence of neurodisability in young people who offend – draws attention to the large numbers of young people in children’s prisons in England who have neurodevelopmental difficulties, such as brain injuries, that could result in communication difficulties, cognitive delays, learning difficulties and emotional and behavioural problems.
Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “This report raises serious questions about whether significant numbers of children in the youth justice system have the ability to understand the whole process from arrest through to sentencing.
“Our failure to identify neurodevelopmental disorders and put in place measures to prevent young people with such conditions from offending is a tragedy. It affects the victims of their crimes, the children themselves, their families, the services seeking to change offenders’ lives for the better, and wider society.
“Although children who have neurodevelopmental disorders and/or who have suffered brain injuries may know the difference between right and wrong, they may not understand the consequences of their actions, the processes they then go through in courts or custody, nor have the means to address their behaviour to avoid reoffending.”
Vulnerable defendants should be given the same help in court cases as vulnerable victims or witnesses, campaigners said today.
People with learning disabilities should get the same help and support to understand court proceedings, whether they are appearing as victim, witness or defendant, the Prison Reform Trust said.
It called for trained and registered intermediaries to be included as a statutory part of the special measures available to vulnerable defendants to help ensure fair trials.
Up to one in 15 prisoners has a learning disability and up to a third have a low IQ, the trust said.
Lord Keith Bradley, chairman of the trust’s Care not Custody programme, said: “Many lawyers and judges in this country are only too well aware of the problems faced by defendants who have learning disabilities.
“Many cannot understand what is going on in the courtroom, and may even jeopardise their trial by answering questions with what they think the lawyer wants to hear.
“Currently vulnerable witnesses and victims get extra help. Arguably, for vulnerable defendants, even more is at stake, and yet they are not entitled to the same support.”
Juliet Lyon, the trust’s director, added: “Far more must be done to prevent the nightmare of entering trial proceedings, which could result in imprisonment, without adequate support and without fully understanding what is going on, or being able to speak up for yourself.”1
Kamini Gadhok, chief executive of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, said: “We know that the majority of offenders have problems with talking, understanding and listening but, alarmingly, these difficulties are not always obvious and it can be very easy to miss the warning signs.
“Defendants with communication difficulties can struggle to understand seemingly simple court proceedings.
“As well as being confusing for the defendant, their lack of understanding can be mistaken for behavioural problems or lack of remorse. This can result in frustration and can manifest as challenging behaviour.
“Improving the communication skills of defendants by providing speech and language therapy can not only help to ensure a fair trial but can significantly reduce the risk of re-offending.”