A jury at the inquest of Sarah Reed, a mentally ill prisoner at HMP Holloway who took her life at the jail last year, has identified serious shortcomings in her care.
Reed was in prison awaiting medical reports about whether she was mentally fit to plead after being charged with assaulting a nurse in a secure psychiatric unit. The reports found she was unfit to plead, but Reed killed herself three days before they were due to be completed.
The jury concluded that Reed, 32, killed herself at a time when the balance of her mind was disturbed, but they were unsure whether she had intended to do so. They said a failure in management of her medication and the failure to conclude the fitness to plead assessment in a timely manner contributed to her subsequent death.
During the summer of 2011, 25-year-old Jacob Michael died after being restrained by 11 police officers outside his home. Just 45 minutes prior to his death he had dialled 999 saying he feared for his life.
Witnesses saw Michael being repeatedly hit with police batons, moments after two officers from Cheshire constabulary released pepper spray into his face, the BBC reported. CCTV footage showed officers holding Michael down on the floor. There was evidence that he had broken ribs and a torn liver.
An inquest into his death concluded that Michael died from cocaine-induced “excited delirium” – a controversial medical condition you probably haven’t heard of.
The human toll of the crisis gripping prisons in England and Wales is exposed with new figures obtained by the Guardian revealing that 125 prisoners have killed themselves in 20 months – an average of more than six a month.
For the first time the Guardian has identified the individuals behind the statistics that show suicide is at its highest rate in prisons for nine years, and there is no sign that the scale of the tragedy is being checked.
The investigation, which examined all suicides between January 2013 and 28 August 2014, found four women and 121 men, aged between 18 and 74, killed themselves in the adult prison system.