Prison service fails Paul Day inquest

Tuesday 1 November 2005

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The 31-year-old robber from Southend on Sea, Essex, was found hanged in his cell at HMP Frankland, Durham, in October 2002, despite being under close observation because he was at known risk of self-harm.

He was serving an eight-year sentence and had spells at Parkhurst, Pentonville, Cardiff, Highdown and finally Frankland.

The inquest heard damning evidence from witnesses documenting mistreatment of Paul by both prison officers and prisoners. As a known informant, who once told a prison chaplain he worked on robberies with corrupt Flying Squad officers, he was targeted for abuse from fellow inmates. Paul Day had attempted to take his own life at Wandsworth Prison, was a known climber and on one occasion prison officers there urged him to jump from a high gantry, the inquest heard.

The jury were asked to address a number of key issues including:

·Allegations of bullying and actions taken by the prison in relation to the bullying;

·The management of Paul whilst he was on a dirty protest;

·Whether adequate information was provided about Paul to HMP Frankland, highlighting systemic failings;

·The level of care given to Paul as a recognised at-risk prisoner.

The jury returned their verdict on 2nd March 2005. They concluded:

'[Paul Day felt] abandoned, frustrated, depressed, helpless and defeated and [had] lost any trust in the system and his carers'

The jury returned a highly critical narrative verdict and their findings included the following:

·That the communication between prisons concerning procedures and transfers was inadequate;

·That the constant verbal abuse that Paul suffered for the last 51 days of his life was not dealt with appropriately by staff and that this was a contributing factor to his death and -gradually took its toll on his mind;

·Paul was on a dirty protest during the last four days of his life and yet he was not encouraged to stop and when he did come off the protest he was returned to the dirty protest corridor;

·He was not consulted before, during or after his last mental health assessment on 1 October 2002, the day before his death.

Paul was on an F2052SH (suicide and self-harm monitoring form) and yet he was checked irregularly, observations were poor as were written entries and staff training in suicide awareness inadequate. The meaning 'frequent, irregular checks', was not understood by either management or staff on the segregation unit and the jury believe this contributed to his death. The jury rejected the prison service's claim that Paul was checked at 22.25 on the night of his death.

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST, said; 'Paul Day was an extremely vulnerable prisoner who was owed a particular duty of care and yet he was subjected to abusive, inhuman and degrading treatment. Prison Service protocols on bullying, suicide prevention and dirty protests were not adhered to and instead his human rights were disregarded and he suffered appalling degradation and abuse until he was driven to his death. The jury were clearly shocked that this kind of treatment could occur in an English prison.'

Pauline Day, mother of Paul, said; 'We welcome the verdict and the jury's findings and are very pleased that the jury read and heard the evidence and came back with the truth. This is the start not the end of our battle. We will continue to fight for those vulnerable people who are locked up in segregation units across prisons in this country. He should never have been there, segregation is for punishment, our son needed help. He suffered 51 days of torture which cannot be justified by anyone to us. We want everyone to know what he went through.'

The family of Paul Day were represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Leslie Thomas (Two Garden Court Chambers) instructed by Fiona Borrill ( Lester Morril Solicitors).

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