Inquest jury find that neglect contributed to death of a prisoner in privately run HMP Peterborough

Thursday 14 February 2019

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The inquest into the death of Sean McCann was held in Huntingdon Coroner’s Court before Assistant Coroner Horstead and a jury.

Mr McCann, who had a recent history of ligaturing, died from hanging from torn bedding while in a cell with a known ligature point. The jury heard over two weeks of evidence concerning the time that Mr McCann spent in Peterborough Prison, and made detailed criticisms of the inadequate assessments of his risk of self-harm and suicide.

They also found insufficient record- keeping and inappropriate management by prison staff of the risk and institutional poor practice amongst prison staff. The jury also recorded that there was insufficient access to mental health services for people with literacy problems, failures to follow up his identified mental health needs and a lack of engagement with sentence planning.

The jury decided that at the time of Mr McCann’s death that there was no clear standardised system to take cells out of use and this systematic failure had a direct causal connection to his death, which also resulted in a failure by prison staff to take the cell out of use following the identification of a ligature point in it by staff on at least two occasions. Their conclusion was that the death was an accident contributed to by neglect.

Stephen Simblet is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests Team.

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