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Young Offender’s Institute Criticised for Failing to Assess Suicide Risk

By Principal Lawyer, Abuse and Disease Teams

A young offenders’ institute has been criticised for failing to identify the suicide risk of an inmate who hanged himself.

18-year-old Greg Revell was a remand prisoner at HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire. He had a history of self-harm and had previously tried to take his own life three months before he was sent to the institute in June 2014.

On only his second night at Glen Parva, Greg had phoned his mother who said that he sounded “extremely upset, helpless and distressed” on the phone. Prison officers did not intervene to support him and, just after 6am the next morning, Greg was found hanged in his cell.

An inquest at Leicester Town Hall heard how prison staff saw that Greg had marks around his neck, an indication of a previous suicide attempt. The inquest jury found that Greg’s needs had not been properly assessed and that the prison had failed to implement an Assessment Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT) procedure.

What is ACCT?

ACCT is a prisoner-centred care planning system, designed to monitor prisoners who are at risk of suicide or self-harm.

Ministry of Justice figures say that around 1,500 prisoners at any one time are subject to care planning in line with ACCT procedures.

Prison staff should open an ACCT plan for a prisoner if they receive any information, including that from family members, or observe any behaviour indicating that a prisoner is at risk of harming themselves. Within an hour of an ACCT plan being opened, a prison Unit Manger must speak to the prisoner and refer him or her to prison healthcare for a mental health assessment.

In the case of Greg Revell, staff at the Glen Parva young offenders’ institute failed in their duty of care. The marks around Greg’s neck were clear signs of previous self-harm and this should have been noticed by prison staff, who should have immediately started an ACCT procedure to monitor Greg’s mental health.

Suicide prevention processes like ACCT are there for a reason and they have to be implemented very quickly in order to give prison staff the best chance of helping prisoners address the root cause of their distress.

I have commented previously on the issue of rising suicide rates among prisoners in an earlier blog: Prison Suicides Increase in England and Wales after Staff Cutbacks

Kim Harrison is Practice Development Leader for Human Rights at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK and is currently acting for families of a number of prisoners who have taken their own lives in prison, both representing the families in inquests and potential associated civil and Human Rights claims.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experts in helping vulnerable people and have represented many clients in inquests and human rights cases. For a free consultation with a Human Rights Lawyer, call us on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.