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House of Lords debate on the Harris Review, 29 October 2015

28 October 2015

On Thursday 29th October, the House of Lords will debate the report findings of the Harris Review into the self-inflicted deaths of 18–24 year olds in prison custody.

Ahead of the debate, INQUEST shared its expertise with peers, utilising evidence obtained from its on-going casework and long-standing research on the deaths of young people in prison custody. See resources below.

Between January and September 2015, there were another 12 self-inflicted deaths of 18-24 year olds. Our findings show:

  1. Continual failures to act on learning from previous deaths and to implement lifesaving policies and measures. Despite a series of highly critical prison inspectorate reports, post-death investigations and inquest findings there is no mechanism to monitor and enforce better practice, or to hold institutions responsible for a death to account;
  2. Prisoners are repeatedly being placed in unsafe environments, characterised by dehumanising regimes and conditions; increased lock up and limited purposeful activity; high levels of violence, segregation, bullying and drug use. This is evidenced by our most recent cases: Steven Davison, Reece Taylor and Billy Spiller;
  3. A lack of staff training in recognising signs of vulnerability such as: the first time in custody, transfer to adult prison, previous history of self-harm, poor mental health or earlier experiences of trauma;
  4. Information breakdown between different statutory bodies, resulting in failures to divert vulnerable groups, identify risks and make judgements about arrests, care and placement.

INQUEST Co-director, Deborah Coles, was a panel member on the Harris Review and INQUEST held a number of Family Listening Days in which the panel heard directly from families regarding the failures and issues concerning their relative’s care and treatment in prison.


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