PPO Publishes Report into Death in Custody from Heatstroke

“Serious failings” must be addressed after a man died from heat stroke after being held in a police van and a stuffy court cell on one of the hottest days in 40 years, a watchdog said.

Rafal Sochacki, a 43-year-old Polish national arrested on an extradition warrant, died in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on June 21 2017.

On Tuesday 2nd July a jury in an inquest into his death concluded it was most likely caused by him being subjected to excessive heat, according to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO).

After the ruling PPO Sue McAllister published an independent report into the death, identifying “serious failings” which should be addressed.

The van taking Mr Sochacki from Wood Green police station to the court stopped at Charing Cross police station on the way, the PPO report said.

He spent 50 minutes in his cell in the vehicle with the engine and air-conditioning turned off, according to the report.

Temperatures in central London reached over 30C (86F) on June 21 2017 and was regarded as the hottest June day in London for 40 years.

The air-conditioning at Westminster Magistrates Court in Marylebone had not worked for weeks.

Portable air-conditioning units provided staff with some relief from the heat but did not effectively help detainees in cells, the PPO said.

Mr Sochacki arrived at the court “drenched with sweat” and within three hours he was “behaving bizarrely”, picking and pulling at his clothing or shouting and hitting his cell door.

Some two hours later, he was found unresponsive and later died at the court, despite attempts to resuscitate him.

His body heat reached at least 39.6C (103F).

Mr Sochacki died of cardiovascular collapse caused by hyperthermia (severe heat stroke) and hypertensive heart disease, the PPO said.

Ms McAllister will now meet government bodies responsible for court transfers and detention as well as private contractor Serco to discuss changes that need to be made.

She said: “I am very concerned that there were inadequate contingency plans when the court’s air-conditioning failed.

“Our investigation also found deficiencies in the way staff managed Mr Sochacki during his transfer to and time in a cell at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

“We found some apparent non-compliance by Serco staff in delivering their contracted service and we have drawn this to the attention of both Serco and those responsible for the management of their contracts at HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS.)”

Julia Rogers, Serco managing director for justice and immigration, said: “Any death in custody is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Sochacki.

“We are pleased the coroner found that our officers had carried out their duties properly and did everything they could to help Mr Sochacki.

“We have been working closely with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and already agreed new procedures to manage extreme temperatures in our vehicles and in the court custody suites.

“The MoJ will also be providing us with a new specialist heat sensory device, that was not previously required, to trial in the custody suites.”

A MoJ spokesman said: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Sochacki’s loved ones and we apologise for our failings in this case.

“Lessons have been learnt from this tragic incident.

“We have established clear procedures when court cells reach set temperatures and when there are excessive delays in collections, and all of our buildings now have ready access to a defibrillator.

“We will continue to learn from this and ensure we are doing everything possible to keep those in custody safe and well.”

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman wrote in their report:

Mr Rafal Sochacki died of cardiovascular collapse caused by hyperthermia (severe heat stroke) and hypertensive heart disease in a court cell at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 21 June 2017.
He was 43 years old.
The circumstances of Mr Sochacki’s death are very disturbing. On the way to court he spent 50 minutes parked in an unventilated escort vehicle and was then held for nearly five hours in an unventilated court cell on one of the hottest days of 2017. The court’s air conditioning was not working and police estimated that the temperature in Mr Sochacki’s cell was between 34⁰C and 40⁰C at the time of his death.
I am very concerned that there were inadequate contingency plans when the court’s airconditioning failed. Staff were aware that the temperature in the cells was excessively hot and it is unacceptable that Mr Sochacki and other detainees were left in those conditions for hours.
Our investigation also found deficiencies in the way staff managed Mr Sochacki during his transfer to and time in a cell at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
We found some apparent non-compliance by Serco staff in delivering their contracted service and we have drawn this to the attention of both Serco and those responsible for the management of their contracts at HMPPS and HMCTS.

Read the Report

HMP Brixton: ‘Transformational’ report reveals ‘bold’ steps taken to reduce drugs and violence

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons has commended HMP Brixton for concerted and successful work to reduce drug use and violence, including a “bold” decision to reduce release on temporary licence because this was being used to smuggle drugs in.

Notable features from this inspection

  • The prison was 200 years old and much of the accommodation was in poor condition.
  • 60% of cells held more prisoners than they were designed for.
  • There had been no self-inflicted deaths since the previous inspection.
  • 52% of the population were black or from a minority ethnic background.
  • 29% of the population were held because of a sexual offence.
  • The prison did not run any accredited offending behaviour programmes.

Peter Clarke said inspectors, who visited the 200-year-old prison in south London in March 2019, found “that with focused leadership, some bold decision-making and a highly committed staff group, much can be achieved even in the most challenging of circumstances.”

In January 2017, inspectors had assessed the prison as fundamentally unsafe, with the lowest judgement of ‘poor’ for both safety and purposeful activity. Respect was ‘not sufficiently good’ and resettlement was ‘reasonably good’.

By 2019, Brixton had many new staff and a cohort of prisoners that had changed in nature, including a larger number of sex offenders. Though the assessment of rehabilitation and release planning had fallen, other areas had improved.

“It is no exaggeration to say that… there has been a transformation in some key areas of the prison’s performance”

“The key to much of what has happened is, in my view, to be found in the determined, pragmatic and bold approach taken to dealing with the problem of illicit drugs which had been dominating prison life and driving very high levels of violence.” Two years ago, some 50% of prisoners said it was easy to get hold of drugs. That figure has now reduced to 30%.

“It is no exaggeration to say that… there has been a transformation in some key areas of the prison’s performance”, Mr Clarke said.

Click to Enlarge

This dramatic improvement had not come about by chance. Brixton had introduced the scanning of post for drug-impregnated paper, put up security netting and responded in a timely way to intelligence reports.

“In addition, the prison was faced with the question of how to respond to very clear intelligence that prisoners released on temporary licence were being pressurised to bring drugs back into the prison, usually concealed within their body and therefore undetectable by the technology available to the establishment.

“The decision was taken to stop the use of release on temporary licence (ROTL), and the evidence shows that this clearly had a huge impact on the availability of drugs.

“This was obviously a very serious step to take, and there was some concern that HM Inspectorate of Prisons would criticise the decision. On the contrary, my view is that this was precisely the type of bold, strategic decision that senior management needed to take.” He urged the prison, though, to keep the policy under review, to ensure it was proportionate.

The improvement in performance against illicit drugs had unsurprisingly been followed by a decrease in violence. “When one considers the overall trends in prisons in recent times, this was a remarkable achievement for a prison such as Brixton. The whole atmosphere within the prison had changed, and was far more relaxed and constructive than in the past,” Mr Clarke said.

“As an indication of how the staff were fully behind what had happened, we were told that in the space of two years, staff sickness levels had dropped from 25% to 4.6%.” Staff used force less often than in comparable prisons.

Inspectors, however, found that many challenges remained. Too many prisoners lived in overcrowded cells that were much too small. Many prisoners had a reasonable amount of time unlocked, but some had a very poor regime.

Ofsted inspectors judged that there had been significant improvement in the provision of education, skills and learning but there was still much to do. “It must become a priority to give sex offenders proper access to training and meaningful work, and access to interventions that can help them address their offending behaviour,” Mr Clarke said.

“It would be quite wrong if a perception were to be allowed to take hold that large numbers of sex offenders had been moved to Brixton to stabilise the prison (whether or not this was the case) and that the prison had then failed to meet their particular needs and risks.”

Overall, Mr Clarke said,

“This was a heartening inspection of what has traditionally been a very difficult prison to run well… Brixton will always be a difficult prison to keep safe, decent and purposeful. My hope is that the progress of the past two years does not turn out to be a temporary blip, and that the improvements we saw can be sustained into the future.”

Phil Copple, Director General of Prisons, said:

“This is an encouraging report to read, demonstrating that a challenging prison like Brixton can be made much safer with hard work, good leadership and the extra staffing in which we have invested. Staff and management are doing a commendable job and I’m pleased that inspectors credit them with this transformation. They are already focused on addressing the inspectors’ remaining concerns – for instance, by looking into ways to secure more work placements for offenders.”

Mark Leech,  Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales writes:

This is a remarkable report.

Two years ago many people wrote off Brixton Prison as a jail incapable of being turned around – this report shows what can be done with the right managers, doing the right things, in the right way, with the right staff.

Yes there are still improvements to be made at Brixton, the fabric of the prison is very poor, but this is a 200 year old jail –  prison Governors are Managers not Magicians, this is Brixton not Hogwarts.

Lamentably, the wording of the report that implies there has been a ban on ROTL at Brixton is at best ambiguous and at worst misleading.

There is no ROTL ban at Brixton – the population changed, with the Category D prisoners being moved to different prisons; the Chief Inspector did not make this at all clear.

The necessity to stem the flow of drugs into prisons is a point well made and the solution is to equip all prisons, not just Brixton, with airport-style body scanners that would enable prisons to deliver ROTL, helping to maintain family ties, aid employment and accommodation, test trust, and reduce reoffending – while at the same time being assured that when prisoners return, the prison has in place a security system that detects any contraband they possess.

Prison Facts:

HMP Brixton is a category C men’s resettlement prison situated in the heart of south London.

This year marks 200 years since it opened. At the time of this latest inspection, it held around 740 prisoners, of whom more than 200 were sex offenders.

HMP Brixton opened in 1819 as the Surrey House of Correction. It was subsequently a prison for women and later a military prison. In 1898, it was turned into an adult male local prison, serving London, particularly south London.

In July 2012, it became a category C and D resettlement prison for the local area. In February 2017, the role of the prison changed to a category C-only resettlement prison.

Read the Report

Prisons Minister responds to IMB National Annual Report – with not a word about Deaths in Custody

The Prisons Minister Robert Buckland QC has responded to the IMB national annual report for 2017/18, that was published on 5 June 2019; the response can be viewed here

The Response is noticeable for the fact that it doesn’t once mention deaths in custody – something that is hardly surprising given that deaths in custody was itself completely missing from the IMB National Annual Report.

This was a point that was  made in Mark Leech‘s recent article on deaths in custody – Discharged: Dead – you can view the article here

IMB finds increase in violence, self-harm and drug use at HMP Lewes

Violence, self-harm and drug use is on the rise at a prison,inspectors warned.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at HMP Lewes, East Sussex, raised the concerns when it published its report on today (Friday 28th June 2019 – but as yet it doesn’t appear on the IMB web site).

The body said there was a “significant increase in prisoner-on-prisoner violence” while “high levels of self-harm and the availability of drugs” were all “major issues”.

Of particular concern is the recorded violence between inmates, which rose from 165 incidents to 278 in 2018/19, an increase of 68%, the report said.

There were 579 instances of prisoners identified as being at risk from self-harm or suicide, according to the IMB.

And the availability and usage of drugs in the prison remains high, it said.

Searches by the prison included 106 occasions of drugs being found and the average failure rate of prisoners from random drug testing between April and November 2018 was more than 20%.

Mary Bell, chairman of the IMB at Lewes Prison, said: “The board also considers the residential accommodation at HMP Lewes is often not of a high enough standard.

“Increased efforts are needed to improve the accommodation conditions, including the timely replacement of furniture, and that cleanliness is made a higher priority.”

She said there were still “major failings in that men who do not go to work or education are likely to be locked up for more than 22 hours a day”.

The report is not yet published on the IMB web site

HMP & YOI New Hall: Continues to be a good and safe prison

HMP & YOI New Hall, a women’s prison near Wakefield, was found in its first inspection since 2015 to be an establishment which continued to be safe, respectful and purposeful, and where work to resettle and rehabilitate prisoners was improving.

Notable features from this inspection

  • According to the prison’s data, 48% of prisoners had committed their offence to support the drug use of someone else.
  • Of the prisoners using the counselling service, only 4% said they had not suffered some form of abuse and
  • 56% said they had experienced more than one kind of abuse. For example, 53% said they had suffered domestic violence and 44% said they had been raped.
Click to Enlarge

In our survey, far more prisoners (60%) than in other prisons for women (48%) described themselves as

being disabled and 78% of prisoners disclosed they had a mental health problem.

71% of the population were receiving services from the substance use psychosocial team.

39% of prisoners were serving long sentences of over four years.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that recorded violence in the prison was quite high, “but nearly all incidents were very minor and overall most prisoners felt safe.” Work to intervene and support those perpetrating threatening or antisocial behaviour, and the victims of such incidents, was effective.

There had been three self-inflicted deaths since 2015 and most recommendations made by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman following its investigations had been implemented. Prisoners at risk of self-harm and with complex needs received good oversight and case management and those inspectors spoke to were positive about the care they received.

Inspectors noted a seeming over-reliance on the use of formal disciplinary processes and some punishments seemed excessive. Use of force had also increased substantially and several women had been in ‘special accommodation’ conditions on the house units, although records failed to adequately justify these decisions. The segregation unit was a clean but austere facility with a basic regime.

The prison environment was good but the quality of accommodation was more variable, although reasonable overall. Staff-prisoner relationships were good although some prisoners expressed frustration at their inability to get some simple tasks done by staff.

Mr Clarke said: “The prison would have benefited from greater visibility and support from managers. It was also our observation that the proportion of female staff was too low and was something that was a very stark and particular feature of the senior team.”

Though work to promote equality was limited outcomes for prisoners from minorities remained broadly consistent with those for other prisoners. The mother and baby unit was excellent and health care was similarly good but mental health provision was undermined by staff shortages among the mental health team.

Women experienced good time out of their cells, including association on Friday evenings, which inspectors now rarely see. The provision of learning, skills and work was improving with plans for a new curriculum and evidence of strong partnership working “Our colleagues in Ofsted assessed the overall effectiveness of provision as ‘good’, but undermined in part by quite poor levels of attendance,” Mr Clarke said.

The coordination of resettlement work had improved greatly since 2015 and offender management was clearly focused on risk reduction.

Overall, Mr Clarke said:
“New Hall remains a good prison, delivering effective outcomes for those held there. At the time of our inspection the prison was experiencing something of an interregnum with a temporary governor in post and new permanent governor about to be appointed. Our report highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of this prison. We trust the findings we detail will help the new governor to ensure momentum is maintained and continuous improvement sustained.”

Phil Copple, Director General of Prisons, said:
“Inspectors rightly recognise the effective work of staff and management in making New Hall a safe and respectful prison.
Since the inspection, a  recruitment drive has increased the proportion of female staff to within reach of the 60 per cent target, and staff have received training on rewarding good behaviour.
A new Governor is set to be appointed in the coming weeks, and will be focusing on the Inspectorate’s recommendations to oversee  further improvements at New Hall.”

 Read the Report

Discharged: Dead – When Truth Falls Through The Trap Door

 

By Mark Leech FRSA. Editor: The Prisons Handbook

I remember it all like it was yesterday – and I doubt I will ever forget.

The 23rd May 1985 was a bitterly cold day in Dartmoor prison as the howling wind whistled off the local Tors and I found myself once again shivering as I walked alone Midnight Express style around a small caged exercise yard in the E.Hall punishment block of a prison built to hold Napoleonic prisoners of war 200 years before.

I was serving 56 days’ solitary confinement, completely my own fault, having just spent two weeks protesting about the change in parole policy by the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan, on the roof of Long Lartin Maximum Security prison in Evesham.

In the cage next to me was a young man called David Greenhow, 23 years old, with learning difficulties, his hair matted with mucus he occupied the cell next to mine and I would often hear him screaming in the night.

That day he spent his hour of exercise standing against the wall of the cage rocking backwards and forwards – he was in E.Hall for repeatedly kicking his cell door in the main prison, he couldn’t explain why, and the Governor had responded by placing him in the E.Hall punishment block for what was euphemistically called the ‘Good Order and Discipline’ of the prison.

We never spoke that day, not once, I asked him how he was but he never responded, his ceaseless rocking backwards and forwards left me with the impression of a young man more in need of help than punishment, and I continued my circular walk lost in my own thoughts against the biting Dartmoor wind.

It was three hours later when I heard the first Officer shout, followed by the stampede of feet to the cell next door. Urgent voices rang out ‘Get the Minuteman’ – the resuscitation machine – but by the time that arrived 20 minutes later from the hospital at the other side of the prison, David Greenhow was beyond help.

His young life ended there, dangling from a ripped bed sheet that he had tied around the cell window bars. This young man, with his whole future stretching out before him, had chosen to take his own life rather than face the anguish of going through even one more day.

That evening the police arrived, they spoke only to prison officers and stayed long enough to rule out foul play. According to the later Inquest Report what were then called the ‘Board of Visitors’, but are today known as Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB) – the supposed ‘watchdogs’ of the public interest – never attended that night. The Chairman, according to the report, had been telephoned at home and advised of the death but seemingly saw no reason to drive the 20 miles from his home in Plymouth to the prison; the man was dead, so what?

Even a century ago, at least in Reading Gaol, the Chaplain called.

At 11pm as I looked through the drill hole in the centre of the spyhole fitted into my cell door I watched as David Greenhow’s lifeless body, wrapped in a green blanket and strapped to a wheelchair, was pushed along the landing outside my cell door to a waiting ambulance on what was to be his final journey in this world – a trip to the hospital mortuary.

David Greenhow was just one of many I have seen choose death over life to prison suicide over the years, it’s hard for those who have not experienced the devastation of despair that descends on a prison wing after someone has taken their own life to explain it, but there is a silence that wasn’t there before, some people talk in hushed whispers while others resort to morbid comedy to cope: “He was too young to be hanging around bars anyway.”

I’ve heard it all – but every death in custody is an event that I never forget and it is to this day what focusses my attention and drives me to confront the horrors of lives needlessly lost which are simply written off as par for the prison course by those who should know better.

Recently some on social media have criticised me for focussing on this, for not understanding, they assert, ‘the issues’; for seemingly misunderstanding the roles that certain officials have to play, and for critically pointing out that too many of today’s IMBs fail to mention in their annual reports how deaths in custody in the prisons that they monitor are treated as events unworthy of any real attention.

They’re wrong: I do understand, and too well as only someone who has been through it too many times can do.

The fact is that lessons that should be learnt from each death are not only routinely ignored, but the very fact that they are ignored is itself shamefully unworthy of any acknowledgement or note.

For every death in custody in England and Wales the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) conducts an investigation, attempting to learn lessons to prevent the next death. They make a plethora of well-intended recommendations designed to prevent repetition, pointing out where things went wrong, how events may have turned out differently if the rules, regulations, practices, procedures, policies and previous identical recommendations made for the second, third and fourth time had been followed.

But they’re not followed; indeed they are almost routinely ignored, without consequence to those who ignore them, but not to those who later die needlessly when they may have been saved.

In IMB annual reports every year, and I read them all, so often the text relating to the number of deaths that have occurred in the prisons these IMBs ‘monitor’ are cut and pasted from one annual report to the next, with only the often increasing numbers changed from one year to the next.

Today, as I write this, 29th June 2019, the PPO published yet another death in custody report, this time into the death by hanging of 30 year old James Turnbull at HMP Durham. In that report the PPO again points out to HMP Durham the failures to implement the same recommendations in respect of Mr Turnbull’s death that the PPO had made previously to Durham Prison – and which like so many before it remain ignored and not implemented.

Mr James Turnbull was found hanged in his cell on 23 December 2017 at HMP Durham. He was 30 years old. Mr Turnbull experienced a severe decline in his mental health in the weeks before he died. His transfer to a psychiatric hospital had been approved and he was awaiting a bed space when he died. The investigation found there was a delay in arranging a psychiatric assessment for Mr Turnbull. If he had been assessed more promptly, it is possible he may have been transferred to hospital earlier where he could have received appropriate treatment. 

Staff managed Mr Turnbull under suicide and self-harm prevention procedures (known as ACCT) when his mental health declined. Initially, they did this well. However, I am concerned that staff wrongly assessed his level of risk and stopped ACCT procedures prematurely. They restarted ACCT procedures on 20 December, after Mr Turnbull told them he had been thinking of ways to hang himself, but worryingly, stopped them just over 24 hours later. I am concerned that despite Mr Turnbull’s continued paranoid behaviour, his pending transfer to psychiatric hospital and a recent stated intention to take his life, he was not being monitored under ACCT procedures when he died. Previous investigations at Durham have identified similar deficiencies in assessing prisoners’ risk and managing ACCT procedures. The Prison Group Director needs to satisfy himself that staff at Durham are properly applying ACCT procedures to protect prisoners at risk of suicide and self-harm. 

Why were the recommendations by the PPO of failures in the past to carry out the mandatory suicide and self-harm procedures correctly at Durham not implemented – and why were these later criticisms even required at all?

Durham is a prison with a shocking record of suicides – precisely perhaps because the lessons and PPO recommendations are neither learned nor implemented. But the failure to implement death in custody recommendations is not something the IMB at Durham found worthy of any note at all – indeed they imply that all is well when it clearly isn’t.

In the latest HMP Durham IMB annual report, covering the period November 2017 (a month before Mr Turnbull died) to October 2018 and published in March 2019, this is what they say:

“Over the last year deaths in custody have increased from 7 (2017) to 11 (2018). Out of the 11 deaths this year, no Coroner’s report is available. The Board have been informed promptly of these deaths and where possible have observed the initial actions and subsequent investigation. All Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) reports have been monitored by the Board and discussed with the Governor. The prison action plans have been monitored accordingly. “

Not a single word about the death of Mr Turnbull, indeed none of the 11 prisoners who died at Durham during this year warrant any specific mention at all. There is nothing, not a word, about the criticism of the PPO and the prison’s failure to implement previous recommendations – and the fact is they must have known when writing their annual report because every prison and its IMB are given the contents of PPO Reports within weeks of a death, and often well over a year before the report itself is made public.

Instead the Durham prison IMB just make the risible claim that PPO reports have been monitored; what on earth does that even mean?

This isn’t just happening at Durham, this is a nationwide problem where IMBs fearful of rocking the Ministry of Justice’s ‘boat’ prefer silence to sanction, concealing from the public whose loved ones have died in their jail, how their deaths might have been prevented if the prisons they monitor had implemented recommendations made previously and ignored.

This problem was made more obvious recently when Anne Owers, the Chair of the National IMB Management Board, issued her first National IMB Annual Report on 5th June 2019. Because this report is merely a rehashing of the flawed IMB annual reports from Boards around the country, this too made no mention at all of any failures, by any prison, to implement PPO recommendations on deaths in custody.

Indeed when you read this report, which others who ought to know better have commended, you will find that the word ‘death’ or ‘deaths’ in this 56 page report appears just once, as a passing reference only, on page 11.

This lamentable fact was forcibly brought home in the Ministerial Response to the National IMB Annual Report when the Prisons Minister, Robert Buckland QC, responded formally to the Report on 28th June 2019 – in which he failed to mention even once, the subject of deaths in custody.

It is not just IMBs and Ministers who are to blame for this, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman are themselves complicit in this concealment – and it starts right on Day One.

The PPO is advised immediately there is a death in custody. But they make no announcement about it, they conceal what deaths they are currently investigating and they have absolutely no mechanism in place for monitoring the implementation of their recommendations at all – which is why prisons ignore them with impunity and without consequence.

That concealment is supported by both HM Prison and Probation Service and the Ministry of Justice, neither of whom make public when someone has died in their care; they leave that to journalists to discover when news ‘leaks’ out days or weeks later – if at all.

The PPO is the first to trumpet its alleged independence, it makes much of it in every report they publish, but the fact is that this is little more than a mirage.

When a person dies in the custody of the State the PPO should announce they are investigating, there should be an online list of current investigations, it can be anonymised, there are sensitivities of next of kin to be considered and the judicial process of an Inquest to consider too, I understand all that. But the very fact they are investigating a death in custody, where it happened, when it happened, male or female and the age of the deceased should be made public – this is the United Kingdom, not North Korea.

This concealment has to stop.

I recently conducted a search of our Fatal Incident database, it contains all the PPO Fatal Incident Reports and I conducted a search of how many reports the PPO had issued on deaths in custody where the PPO had been forced to repeat recommendations that had been made previously but ignored – recommendations that had to be made again when further death in similar circumstances had occurred; the almost 100 cases runs to some six pages.

Unless we learn the lessons of why so many die in custody, unless we are open and transparent about deaths, acknowledging immediately when they occur, unless the PPO can put in place a robust mechanism for monitoring the implementation of their recommendations – and IMBs can be honest about when that implementation just isn’t happening – then people will continue to die, perhaps needlessly, in our prisons.

And, just like 35 years ago when 23-year-old David Greenhow was being driven out of the gates of Dartmoor Prison for the final time, the facts is that prison officials will continue to stamp the front of far too many prisoners’ records with the brutal self-explanatory text: “Discharged: Dead”.

Mark Leech FRSA, is the Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales.

Police officer who stole £65 from dead man’s wallet jailed for cover-up bid

A serving police officer who stole £65 from a dead man’s wallet has been jailed for 15 months for trying to cover up the theft.

Paul Wallace, 47, a police constable with Humberside Police, stole the money after being given the role of liaison officer to the family of the man, who had died suddenly.

He later tried to cover up the theft by planting £65 in the police property store, amending his pocket notebook and duping another officer to find the money after a complaint was made by the deceased man’s partner.

Wallace, of Willowdale, Hull, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing and was sentenced at Grimsby Crown Court.

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, told the court that Wallace attended the sudden accidental death of Paul Rutter in Leconfield, East Yorkshire, in June 2015 and was assigned as family liaison officer.

He helped other officers search the property and took possession of a number of items, including Mr Rutter’s brown wallet, containing £65, which was later logged and placed in the property store at Clough Road police station in a numbered evidence bag.

In the days following Mr Rutter’s death, Wallace returned the wallet to his partner, who complained to the police professional standards branch when she found it empty.

The next month, Wallace was informed by email that a complaint had been made and withdrew £50 from a cash machine near the police station within half an hour of reading the message.

He then placed the cash into an evidence bag, marked with the same exhibit number as the wallet, and put the bag into the property store before calling another officer to help him search for the missing money, which was found among other evidence bags and stationery.

Wallace amended his police pocket notebook by adding notes about the money being separated from the wallet.

Mr Sandiford said the defendant’s actions had affected Mr Rutter’s partner by making her relive the events surrounding his death and had shattered her faith and trust in the police and other people.

The court heard that Wallace had no previous convictions but had received a final written warning in 2010 for breaching police conduct regulations by forging the signature of a witness on a statement.

Judge John Thackray QC told Wallace: “A prison sentence is nearly always required to mark the affront to our justice system when a person has committed the offence of perverting the course of justice. When committed by a police officer, the offence is particularly serious.

“In this case, there was an element of persistence and obvious planning.”

He continued: “I am urged to consider here suspending the inevitable custodial sentence. I accept your risk of reoffending could be managed within the community, I accept you could be rehabilitated in the community, I accept an immediate custodial sentence will have a catastrophic effect on you and your family.

“But I am afraid, Mr Wallace, only appropriate punishment can be achieved with an immediate custodial sentence.”

Wallace, wearing glasses, a dark grey shirt and black trousers, showed no emotion as he was sentenced and led from the dock in handcuffs.

A count of theft in respect of the stolen money was ordered to lie on file after it was accepted that it was incorporated into the more serious perverting the course of justice charge.

Miranda Biddle, regional director for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said the criminal charges followed an investigation by the IOPC and outstanding conduct matters were being dealt with by Humberside Police.

She said: “Police officers are expected to display high levels of honesty and integrity so, when allegations are made that undermine those expectations, it is vital that they are fully investigated.”

HMYOI WERRINGTON – Many positives but high levels of violence impacting lives

HMYOI Werrington in holding around 120 boys aged between 15 and 18, was found by inspectors to have become less safe over the year since its last inspection.

Notable features from this inspection
  • 56% of children identified as being from a black Asian or minority ethnic background.

  • Around 40% of frontline staff had less than 12 months experience.

  • 51% of children reported having previously been in Care.

  • 15 children were facing or serving long-term sentences.

  • 57% of children reported having been restrained.

Brief history

  • The establishment opened in 1895 as an industrial school and was subsequently purchased by the Prison Commissioners in 1955. Two years later it opened as a senior detention centre. Following the implementation of the Criminal Justice Act 1982 it converted to a youth custody centre in 1985 and in 1988 became a dedicated juvenile centre (15-18-year olds) with secure accommodation for those serving a detention and training order. Young people serving extended sentences under Section 91 of the Criminal Justice Act and remanded young people are also held at Werrington.

Inspectors assessed that the young offender institution, near Stoke-on-Trent, had deteriorated in three of HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ ‘healthy prisons tests’. Care for children and rehabilitation work had both slipped from good, the highest assessment, to reasonably good. The test of purposeful activity for those held remained at reasonably good.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, while drawing attention to many positives at Werrington, was concerned that safety had now fallen to an assessment of not sufficiently good.

“The number of assaults on children remained high and violence against staff had doubled since our previous inspection. This impacted on all aspects of life at Werrington.” Inspectors found that some of the violence was serious. The use of force by staff had gone up.

The number of assaults on children remained high and violence against staff had doubled since our previous inspection. This impacted on all aspects of life at Werrington.

“We found that potentially motivational behaviour management policies were undermined by poor implementation and the lack of consistency in their application led to frustration among children and staff. Opportunities to reward good behaviour were missed and we saw many examples of low level poor behaviour not being challenged.” Inspectors, who visited in February 2019, noted that behaviour management had become more punitive compared to the previous inspection in January 2018.

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Mr Clarke added that it was “notable that there had been significant staff turnover in the previous year. During the inspection, we met many enthusiastic staff in their first year of service. However, leaders and managers needed to be more visible to support these staff, model effective practice and ensure behaviour management policies were properly implemented to help reduce the high levels of violence at Werrington.”

Outcomes in the area of care were more encouraging. The promotion of equality and diversity by the education provider at the YOI was particularly good and inspectors found no evidence of disproportionate treatment of children from minority groups. Health care was also very good.

“Engagement between staff and children was respectful but opportunities to build more meaningful and effective relationships were missed.” Inspectors, though, commended an area of good practice. The YOI’s safer custody team maintained a database of key dates, such as the anniversary of bereavements. All staff were contacted before these dates and asked to look out for these children. Time out of cell was reasonably good for most children but ‘keep apart’ issues – aimed at keeping apart boys who might come into conflict – meant there were often delays in moving them to education, health care or other appointments.

“This meant that resource was wasted as teachers, clinicians and other professionals waited for children to arrive,” Mr Clarke said. However, attendance at education had improved since the previous inspection and children appreciated the better range of vocational subjects on offer.

Inspectors found some good work in support of resettlement but a lack of coordination. Caseworkers, and sentence plans, were not driving the care of children at Werrington.

Overall, Mr Clarke said:

“There are many positives in this report but weaknesses in behaviour management have led to deterioration of outcomes in some areas. Managers need to make a concerted effort to support frontline staff in the challenging task of implementing behaviour management schemes, with the principal aim of reducing the number of violent incidents at Werrington.”

Helga Swidenbank, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Executive Director of the Youth Custody Service, said:

“I am pleased that inspectors have recognised the large amount of positive work taking place at Werrington, including good healthcare and education, and the strong relationships staff have developed with the boys in their care. While violence is a challenge across the youth estate, the new Governor has already started to implement plans to reduce it, review behaviour management and improve the one-to-one support for every boy. As part of a new initiative, experienced staff are now providing more support to recently recruited frontline officers and this will help to drive improvements at Werrington.”

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Prison Officer Chelsea Scott admits misconduct after relationships with two prisoners – at the same time

A woman prison officer has avoided going to prison despite having two affairs with male inmates simultaneously in Maidstone and Suffolk.

Chelsea Scott, 39, had used a previous name of Kendall Love to cover her tracks, a judge has heard.

She began the first relationship while she was still training and then began another after being transferred to Maidstone Prison last year.

Scott, of Tufton Street, Ashford is still in a relationship with ex-prisoner Stanislav Zampr, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

The mum-of-one pleaded guilty to two charges of misconduct while in public office and received a nine month sentence suspended for two years.

She will also have to do 200-hours of unpaid work for the community.

Her second affair was discovered when she was seen with Zampr in an enclosed kitchen area in the Thanet Wing at Maidstone where he shouldn’t have been.

Prosecutor Steven Mould said “trustee” Zampr was immediately “segregated” from other inmates while a search was made of his cell and officers then discovered “sexually explicit” letters.

Police later searched her home in Ashford and discovered that in January last year she had begun a relationship with another inmate at HMP Hollesley Bay – known As ‘The Colony’ – where she was being trained.

Officers also found photographs of Scott “in various state of undress”, the court was told.

Investigators also discovered a passport in the name of Kendall Love and she admitted to a senior officer she was aware that passing love letters to prisoners was wrong.

“She said that Zampr had helped her when she was new to the wing and she saw him more as a colleague than a prisoner and all the letters she wrote to him were all fantasy,” the prosecutor added.

He revealed how in April she was assigned to Maidstone Prison and had started the second relationship while continuing with the other.

The prosecutor said Scott, who now works as a call handler, was questioned and admitted having “inappropriate relationships”.

He said she had breached the prison motto: “Don’t Cross The Line” and she admitted she had done wrong.

Max Reeves, defending, said Scott did not have sex with either of her lovers in prison but did meet the inmate from Suffolk on days he was allowed out.

A psychiatric report said she maybe suffering from a personality disorder which causes her to take risks.

She admitted two breaches of misconduct in office.

Scott wept in the dock as she was told by the judge sexual relations between prisoners and prison officers were “corrosive” and undermined authority.

Judge Martin Huseyin said she had also put herself at risk of blackmail and exploitation.

Nile rodgers: employers are overlooking ex-offenders for jobs

Ex-offenders are being overlooked by employers despite having the correct skill sets for vacant jobs, Chic frontman Nile Rodgers has said.

The singer added that employment would give people coming out of prison an identity and sense of purpose as he launched a new campaign from social justice charity, Key4Life.

The organisation works with 18 to 25-year-old prisoners and ex-offenders to provide programmes that encourage young men to change their ways.

Rodgers, who has employed ex-offenders, said at the launch of the Younited campaign: “It’s amazing to me that people don’t quite understand that if people don’t have second chances, what are they going to do?

“If you give someone opportunity you are at the same time taking away their incentive to offend. It’s a powerful solution.

“You gotta give people a second chance. People who want it, work even harder.

“From where I’m coming from, thinking of the people I’ve hired in the past, it’s an absolute honour to hand the Younited flag to the next generation.

“I can prove from the track-record of the people that I’ve had working for me that they’ve been successful, sometimes more so than me, and they’ve been dedicated.

“The one thing that I’ve seen is that people who grow up in very difficult environments are great thinkers, they really are great thinkers.

“If you put that brain to work in the proper setting, you’d be surprised by the results.”

Good Morning Britain presenter Alex Beresford, who hosted the gala, added: “I don’t believe prison works in all cases, I’ve met young men from where I grew up as a kid that go in-and-out, in-and-out, in-and-out and it doesn’t act as a deterrent.

“So, to have something like Key4Life, that can actually go into prisons and work with the boys so that when they leave prison, they have something to look forward to and goals to reach is a win-win.

“Cause at the end of the day, yes, we want them to serve their time, but we also want them to learn their lesson and realise there is another way and Key4Life is providing that opportunity. ”

Justice Secretary David Gauke has also backed the campaign saying: “I’m a firm believer in the power of work to change people’s lives.

“Work can provide dignity and purpose as well as the money to pay bills and support family life.

“Many employers already recognise that they can benefit from the skills and work ethic of people leaving prison.

“Through the Younited campaign, I am sure those businesses will be joined by many more.”