Prison failures contributed to death, jury finds

Thursday 1 September 2016

Inquest conclusion criticises HMP Highpoint for 'lack of compassion'.

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Multiple failings by staff contributed to the death of a vulnerable prisoner, a jury has found. The 11-day inquest into the death of David Smith ended in Bury St Edmunds yesterday with a wide-ranging narrative conclusion. The jury criticised HMP Highpoint for failing to identify, and respond adequately to, the risk of self-harm despite numerous warnings throughout the evening of 23 May 2014.

They concluded that the prison failed to begin safeguarding measures in time and, once begun, the process was not implemented adequately by an untrained staff member. The jury heard evidence that the ACCT (safeguarding procedure) was eventually opened at around 23.30 but no checks were made before David was found hanging in his cell some 30 minutes later. He was pronounced dead in the early hours of 24 May 2014.

The narrative conclusion also identified lack of training, insufficient staff, lack of awareness of prison protocols, failure to check prison records and a ‘lack of compassion’ as all contributing to the death.

The family of Mr Smith were represented by Taimour Lay, a member of the Garden Court Inquests team. He was instructed by Sara Lomri and Anna Thwaites of Bindmans LLP. INQUEST has been working with the family since 2014.

More information can be found in the INQUEST press release. This case has also been covered by the Guardian.

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