High risk prison in­mate had threat­ened sui­cide

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Andy Richard­son Staff Re­porter

ACORONER has de­manded im­prove­ments to men­tal health ser­vices at Birm­ing­ham Prison af­ter an in­mate who threat­ened to kill him­self was found hanged.

Daniel Watkins said he would take his own life if he re­ceived a lengthy sen­tence for try­ing to kill his ex-girl­friend and a young girl in a fire.

But Birm­ing­ham Coro­ner’s Court heard he was not con­sid­ered to be at high risk of sui­cide as he be­gan a ten-year prison term.

He was later found hanged on a stair­well.

An in­quest jury re­turned a sui­cide ver­dict but said his death could have been pre­vented by the in­ter­ven­tion of the prison and a men­tal health team.

Birm­ing­ham Coro­ner Lou- ise Hunt said she would write to Birm­ing­ham Prison, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Dominic Raab, Health Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt and the Pris­ons Om­buds­man, high­light­ing her con­cerns and de­mand­ing im­prove­ments to pre­vent fu­ture deaths.

“I want re­as­sur­ances on prison of­fi­cer train­ing when deal­ing with men­tal health cases,” she said. “I want as­sur­ances about staff train­ing gen­er­ally and the safety of pris­on­ers and staff. Lessons have to be learned.”

Giv­ing ev­i­dence, his mother Theresa Jones said: “He said to me: ‘Mum, I can’t cope. I don’t think I am able to cope in here.’”

Mr Watkins, 35, of Smiths Close, Bid­ford-on-Avon, War­wick­shire, was found dead at the Win­son Green jail on De­cem­ber 7 last year.

He had served just a month of his sen­tence, im­posed at Wolver­hamp­ton Crown Court af­ter he ad­mit­ted two counts of at­tempted mur­der.

The fire, at an ad­dress in Cradley Heath on June 3, left a 34-year-old woman and a girl of six need­ing treat­ment for smoke in­hala­tion.

Mr Watkins was put in a shared cell and mon­i­tored once a day, the in­quest heard.

Any­one thought to be at risk of self-harm would be mon­i­tored five times a day or con­stantly.

The in­quest ver­dict was re­turned last Thurs­day af­ter­noon, just days af­ter the boss of Birm­ing­ham Prison ad­mit­ted that “dozens” of in­mates were “in­tent on hurt­ing them­selves and oth­ers” ev­ery year.

Re­cently ap­pointed gover­nor, Richard St­ed­man, told the Birm­ing­ham Post in a widerang­ing in­ter­view: “We save dozens of peo­ple ev­ery year who are in­tent on hurt­ing them­selves and oth­ers.

“Those peo­ple need re­as­sur­ance and that is the work that staff do here ev­ery sin­gle day – but it does not get the recog­ni­tion it de­serves.”

> Daniel Watkins died at Birm­ing­ham Prison

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