Record number of inmates are killing themselves, says charity
FAMILIES of two of the record number of prisoners who have committed suicide urged Justice Secretary Liz Truss to take action over the scandal yesterday.
A judicial review hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice was held to address 18 deaths at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes since early 2013 and the “lack of a national oversight mechanism” on how they have been dealt with.
The rate of suicides across prisons in England and Wales is at a record high, according to justice charity Inquest.
The charity is supporting the relatives of Ian Brown, who died in July 2015, and Daniel Dunkley, who died in August 2016, to mount a judicial review.
Judges were asked to raise the case with Ms Truss and rule that Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, covering the right to life, lawful arrest and detention, has been breached.
But the defence, representing Ms Truss and the governor of HMP Woodhill, argued that the order is not appropriate or necessary.
Judges Lord Justice Irwin and Mr Justice Garnham said that this would be an “unusual course of action,” Inquest said.
A decision is expected after the court returns from the Easter recess.
Mr Brown’s sister Julie Barber said: “If lessons had been learned when my brother died all those families would not have had to go through what we have had to go through.”
The 18th self-inflicted death happened in November, a month after the High Court gave permission for the claim to be heard.
“It’s hard for us to hear about more deaths. It makes me angry that suicides have happened that could have been prevented if changes had been put in place as they should have been.”
Inquest director Deborah Coles said: “The current system for learning lessons and implementing changes arising from deaths in custody is not fit for purpose; it does not adequately prevent future deaths, meet the hopes and needs of bereaved families, or satisfy the wider public interest.
“The deplorable situation at HMP Woodhill is just one stark example of a much wider national problem.”
There were 105 deaths recorded as suicides in English and Welsh prisons in the year to June 2016, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) — the highest number for 25 years.
Prior to 2013, there were only three suicides over the previous three years.