Call for inquiry as 7th teenager dies in custody

originally by: The Independent
9th July 2011

The death of the seventh teenager in custody this year has triggered calls for an independent inquiry into the imprisonment of young people which campaigners say needs a “complete overhaul”. Tuan Ho, 18, was found hanging in his cell at Chelmsford prison and young offender institution on Monday night and died later in hospital.

His death comes after five teenagers died in five separate institutions between 16 March and 18 April, including two who were on suicide watch. A sixth teenager died at Hydebank Wood young offenders centre and prison in south Belfast in May.

The deaths, all suspected suicides, have alarmed prison reformers and raised questions about the help available to vulnerable young people.

All seven deaths will be investigated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, who is considering issuing urgent recommendations to the Prison Service and Youth Justice Board. Helen Shaw, co-director of Inquest, called for “decisive action”.

“The youth justice system needs more profound scrutiny and there is an urgent need for a holistic inquiry in public to examine wider systemic and policy issues”.

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