Man dies amidst jail scandal
Six prison officers have been suspended at the privately run Rye Hill Prison, where police are investigating the deaths of two prisoners and allegations of corruption by staff.
Two prison officers were suspended immediately following the death of 23-year old Michael Bailey in its segregation unit; the other suspensions came soon after. A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police, who are investigating, initially said, “Two members of prison staff have been suspended pending an internal inquiry.”
Michael, from Birmingham, who was serving four years for drugs charges, was found hanged in his cell early on 24th March 2005 at the privately-run category-B prison HMP Rye Hill, Warwickshire which holds 660 adult male prisoners, including 150 vulnerable inmates in a purpose-built unit.
Prisoners at Rye Hill, who had contacted a national newspaper, claimed that Bailey had threatened to kill himself. The prison service confirmed that he had been placed on suicide watch and should have been checked every 15 minutes. One of the prisoners said there was a “running battle” in the jail between rival gangs, and police had been in the prison on the day of Bailey’s death but had not spoken to any of the prisoners.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire police confirmed that two officers at Rye Hill had been suspended from their duties. He added that the force was “working closely with the prison service as part of the ongoing investigation into Mr Bailey’s death.”
Rye Hill, opened in 2001, is operated by Global Solutions Ltd, (GSL) formerly known as Group 4. Last year the prisons ombudsman, Stephen Shaw, questioned “the fitness of GSL to run any removal centre or prison in this country”. His remarks followed an inquiry into allegations of racism and abuse by staff at Yarlswood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire.
Michael’s family and supporters are concerned with incidents of violence both before and since his death. Ruggie Johnson, from the Sheffield-based civil rights campaign group Monitoring North, said the death was “alarming” and called for a detailed investigation.
Days after Michael’s death another inmate (who was due to give evidence at Michael’s inquest) was assaulted and died, a number of inmates were subsequently charged with murder. Wayne Martin Reid, aged 44, received a fatal chest wound in the assault. Following Mr Reid’s murder, police investigating deaths at the jail arrested a custody officer at the prison on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.
Hanged inmate was failed by prison staff, says coroner
10 February 2009
Inquest updates on the campaign site
Throughout the inquest which took place early in 2009, several reports were compiled.
Four guards cleared of jail death
2 April 2007
Prison warder arrested over drugs
20 April 2005