Bullying at Shropshire prison creates risk of future deaths, Coroner warns

Friday 29 April 2016

Bullying at HMP Stoke Heath is putting prisoners at risk, according to the Senior Coroner for Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, who has issued a Report to Prevent Future Deaths outlining his concerns.

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The report follows a five-day inquest into the death of Derrick Rose-Fowler which ended in Shrewsbury on 15 April 2016.

Rose-Fowler, 44, was founded hanging in his cell on 5 June 2015. He had repeatedly voiced concerns for his safety at the prison, most recently in a letter to the Governor six weeks before his death. “The problems have not gone away and I am looking over my shoulder all the time”, he wrote. An “intelligence report” logged by the prison in March 2015 reporting his concerns wasn’t acted upon and no support was offered.

The jury heard evidence that Rose-Fowler, a prisoner with a history of self-harm diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder, missed mental health and GP appointments throughout 2015 because he feared leaving the wing. A prisoner stated that he had heard Rose-Fowler being threatened on the evening of 4 June 2015 and that he had appeared “scared” the following morning.

Rose-Fowler’s mother, Adeline Rose, gave evidence that her son had begged her to make two payments to individuals outside the prison. “I heard someone else in the background and I got the impression he was under duress,” she said.

“The prison has a Tackling Bullying Behaviour policy but there is concern as to how effectively it was implemented,” the Coroner found, although the jury did not identify a probable connection between the bullying and the death. “In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths.”

The Coroner also raised concern over the First Aid training of Prison Officers and has sent a separate Report to Prevent Future Deaths to the Ministry of Justice. “Although on the facts of this case, it made no difference to the outcome, the first Prison Officer on the scene was not First Aid trained. The evidence at the inquest was that there was no national requirement for all Prison Officers to be First Aid trained provided that a certain proportion were. In hanging cases, time is of the essence for CPR and if there is any significant delay by reason of the first attending Officer not being First Aid trained then there is a risk of future deaths occurring.”

The jury concluded that Rose-Fowler died by hanging but that he did not have the intent to take his own life.

The family of Derrick Rose-Fowler were represented by Taimour Lay of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by Lucy Cadd at Hodge Jones & Allen.

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