Vulnerable man found hanged in his prison cell
from various sources – June 2016
submitted by – Kelly Averill
News updates listed at the foot of this item
On 24 August 2010, 29-year-old Shaun Beasley was found hanged in his cell. Two private companies with lucrative prison and police contracts across Britain have been criticised by a jury for the role they played in the suicide of a vulnerable inmate with mental health problems.
Shaun was imprisoned at HMP & YOI Parc, in Bridgend. It is the only private prison in South Wales and is run by G4S, one of the biggest suppliers of security to the public and the Criminal Justice System.
In May 2007 Shaun was given an indeterminate sentence with a minimum tariff of two years and 145 days. by 2010 he had served over 3 years in prison.
Throughout an individual’s time in prison they will typically have several meetings and parole board hearings to review their sentence or suitability for early parole. On one such occasion Shaun had been informed at a parole board hearing that he would have to complete a course before being eligible for release.
Two weeks prior to his death, he was moved from HMP Littlehey, where he had been for two and a half years and was settled, to HMP Parc where he was told he would be able to take the course. Once he had arrived at Parc he was informed the course was not in fact available at the prison, and he would not be able to take it for another 2-3 years. This caused him severe distress.
On the evening of Shaun’s death he rang home telling his family of his struggles, informing them he could not cope anymore. Knowing of his history of mental health problems and attempted suicides, Shaun’s family called the prison to alert them to his condition. Shaun was already known to the prison staff as being an inmate at risk of self-harm.
An official document used by prison staff called the ACCT document (Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork – the system used for prisoners who are at risk of self-harm) determines extra watches that can be put in place when the inmate expresses self-harm or suicidal tendencies.
As with any death in custody, an inquest was held to find out what exactly happened and to find out if something could have been done to prevent Shaun’s death. The inquest was held at Aberdare Coroners Court and the jury was told that staffing levels at the prison were inadequate, there just weren’t enough professionals to help ease the strain of manning a prison.
A nurse working the night of Shaun’s death had no experience of working on ACCT. She also ‘had very little experience working with inpatients’ This could have been due to her possibly being a new member of staff at the prison.
Louise Jeory, a healthcare manager at HMP Parc at the time of Shaun’s death told the jury of poor staffing levels, inadequate training, inadequate record-keeping and low morale.
Throughout the inquest evidence of staff being unaware of procedures that were in place came to light.
The call from Shaun’s family the night of his death was not recorded nor acted upon. Shaun should have been under half -hourly watches to ensure his safety and that he had not done anything to harm himself. However, he was found hanging in his cell just after midnight on 24 August 2010.
Poor communication between staff was also raised as a key concern by the coroner.
Ms Mackenzie, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales said that HMP Parc’s health unit was ‘chaotic’ and that the provision of care and treatment for Shaun was “grossly inadequate” leading to a systematic failure to protect him from suicide. She believed his death could have been prevented.
After Shaun’s death HMP Parc underwent a gruelling inspection. His death has made practitioners and professionals question private companies taking over prisons, and whether they put profits before quality of care for the inmates.
Sarah Campbell, Operations Director for Primecare’s secure health services, said: “We are deeply sorry that the care that Mr Beasley received was not up to the required standards. Our services have improved greatly since this tragic incident in 2010.”
Prisoner’s death due to neglect, inquest Jury finds