Vulnerable young woman dies in her prison cell
compiled from various sources – June 2016
submitted by – Falak Bibi
Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item
Sarah Reed, aged 32, from London, was found dead in her Holloway Prison cell on 11 February 2016. She suffered from severe mental health issues ever since the sudden death of her newborn baby in September 2003. After her child died at Beckton Children’s Hospice, she and her partner were forced to carry the body in their own car to an undertakers, an ordeal she never recovered from say her family.
Sarah was on remand at the prison awaiting trial for assault. She was arrested after an altercation while detained in a hospital in south London. The family say she was acting in self-defence.
Sarah’s story was initially subject to a media restriction and only became common knowledge when the news was shared on Lee Jasper’s blog, and quickly spread through social media networks.
According to her family while being in prison she was denied treatment. Sarah’s family have raised many questions as to why a woman suffering from such severe health issues was firstly withheld appropriate care, removed from the mental health team in the community, and taken to prison where no support or treatment would be provided.
Her family were informed that Sarah had strangled herself while lying on her bed. They were further told to identify Sarah, but once they arrived they were denied access to her body.
Four years previous to this Sarah was at the centre of a police brutality storm after she was thrown to the ground, grabbed by the hair and punched three times in the head by PC James Kiddie as he arrested her on suspicion of shoplifting. The attack was so brutal that Kiddie’s fellow officers reported him to the Metropolitan police’s directorate of professional standards. In 2014 he was found guilty of assault over the incident, sentenced to 150 hours community service and suspended.
CCTV footage and images revealed Sarah being brutally punched, handcuffed to the ground and dragged by her hair by PC James Kiddie. He was also seen hauling Sarah to the ground before kneeling on her neck to restrain her.
A solicitor for Sarah, Victoria Hatton, of Neumans LLP said; “Sarah had been the victim of a brutal attack by a serving police officer”. Another statement from the law firm said; “As seen in the video footage played to the court, PC Kiddie threw Ms. Reed to the floor, where a light bulb smashed and caused her to suffer a two centimeter laceration to her lower back, this was followed by three powerful strikes aimed at Ms. Reed’s head.
Kiddie told jurors that Sarah had bitten him on the finger and claimed that she had HIV. Westminster Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Paul Rickett said; “Police officers join the Met to protect and serve the public and I was extremely shocked to learn and indeed see what happened.”
“There was absolutely no justification for the officer’s use of force and the court agreed that PC Kiddie acted in ‘anger’ with actions being described by the judge as ‘instinctive’ and ‘immediate’ as there was no pause by him for re-assessment.”
See the video here. Caution: distressing footage!
It was also said “The obvious fact that Sarah was ill meant that placing her in the criminal justice system without recourse to the medical help she clearly needed was an unforgivable act of brutality and cruelty. I am told that throughout her time on remand Sarah never received any medication. This would have constituted a living hell for someone whose life had been marred with personal tragedy, mental ill health and police brutality.”
Sarah Reed’s Christmas card to her mother read; “Mum, this is just to say Merry Xmas … PS. Get me out of jail.” It was one of a number of appeals from Sarah to her family in the last weeks of her life.
Her mother, Marylin Reed, said; “She kept writing to me and other family members saying, ‘Please help me to get out of here; I shouldn’t be in here; I’m not being treated,”. “Her priority in every letter was: ‘I need my medication.”
Marylin is very angry at those that were responsible to deal adequately with her daughters’ mental health needs.
She said; “I’d like the UK to overhaul how they treat people with mental health issues. People don’t get up in the morning and decide to have mental health issues. It is is like all other sicknesses. I would like from my daughter’s death, that lessons be learned and that if anybody else goes into the hands of Holloway, any prison or even a hospital, that they be treated as human, and be assessed and their needs be met.
“I personally don’t believe that prison is the place for anyone with mental health issues. I would like, if anything comes from what’s happened to my daughter, that it would save the life of another [person], who shouldn’t be in a prison.”
Inquest for dead victim of police brutality
27 June 2017
How can we prevent more young women from dying in prison?
19 February 2016
Denying Prisoners Mental Health Care Is Cruel and Immoral
8 February 2016