TRADE UNION activists stood in solidarity yesterday with the family of a black woman who died in prison, promising to help in their search for the truth.
Delegates to this year’s TUC Women’s Conference unanimously decided to rally behind the Justice for Sarah Reed campaign.
Ms Reed, who suffered from severe depression and other mental health issues, was found dead in her cell in Holloway Prison in January.
Public-sector workers union PCS delegate Zita Holborne said: “Sarah Reed died because she was a woman, because she was black, because she had mental ill health.
“Sarah was failed by multiple public bodies and authorities.
“We know austerity cuts more recently have impacted on this, but there’s also a question about accountability and responsibility, of duty of care, of humanity, of institutional racism, sexism and disability discrimination.”
In 2015, Ms Reed had been victim of a violent assault by PC James Kiddie while she was under arrest on suspicion of shoplifting.
She died while in prison awaiting trial for the alleged offence.
Speaking for the Prison Officers Association (POA), Sue Gibson said the 30 per cent increase in deaths behind bars since 2010 was not coincidental.
Conservative-led cuts to prison services have resulted in there being an average of 30 prisoners for each prison officer.
“I am a prison officer and have been for over 13 years, yet, although the POA has consistently, constantly been warning the government and our employer of the need for prison officers to have mental health awareness training, our requests have been ignored,” Ms Gibson said.
A Justice for Sarah Reed protest will take place at 11.30am next Saturday in front of All Souls church, London W1. Participants are asked to wear red.