G4S deny MP’s claim they told family their loved one had hanged himself – only to call back later to say he hadn’t

birmingham prison

A family who were wrongly informed their son had killed himself in prison has received an apology from the Government – but G4S, whose staff allegedly made the call, have said it never happened.

MPs heard the HMP Birmingham inmate’s relatives received a call earlier this month in which they were told he had taken his own life.

HMP Birmingham is operated by G4S.

But 30 minutes later they were told he was still alive, according to Labour’s Stephen Doughty.

The Cardiff South and Penarth MP called for an investigation into the error, also noting his constituent has endured a “lengthy bureaucratic process” in efforts to transfer him to a secure mental health unit.

Prisons Minister Andrew Selous apologised to the family concerned and agreed to discuss the inmate’s case further.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Doughty said: “I share the concerns of many honourable members about the situation involving prisoners with mental health issues and the risks they pose not only to themselves but also to others and indeed are faced by them in prisons, and the concerns that the staffing cuts are having on that.

“I’ve been in correspondence with the minister about a specific constituent of mine, who has endured a lengthy bureaucratic process about potential transfer to a secure mental health unit that would be more adequate for his needs.

“But also I’m sorry to say that his family had a call this month telling them that he had killed himself, only to be told half an hour later that he hadn’t.

“That’s an extraordinary situation, and I think I’d like to see the minister investigating that fully and also to be looking very closely at the case that has been made for him to be transferred away from HMP Birmingham, where he’s currently being held.”

Mr Selous replied: “I’d certainly like to apologise to the family through you for being given terrible news like that that clearly wasn’t true, and if you’d like to write to me again – or indeed even come and see me – about that particular issue, I’d be more than happy to further discuss it with you.”

However, following publication of the story on www.converseprisonnews.com we have been contacted by G4S who said the story was “incorrect”.

A G4S spokesman said: “It is something that was said in Parliament, but our investigations have shown that we didn’t call the prisoner’s family to tell them that the prisoner had died.

“We have checked phone records to that effect.

“In fact, we never call prisoner’s families to inform them of a death in custody, but instead we meet them in person.
“So we’re confident that any phone call referenced didn’t come from our prison.”