Jack ‘let down by men­tal health care’

Jury rules there were a num­ber of fail­ings which led to man’s death

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by Qasim Per­acha qasim.per­acha@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @qasimper­acha

A 29-YEAR-OLD sec­tioned man who bat­tled drug ad­dic­tion was ‘let down’ by the care he re­ceived in prison and a men­tal health fa­cil­ity.

Jack Port­land died just af­ter Christ­mas when he was granted one hour un­escorted leave on De­cem­ber 27, 2015.

A jury heard de­tails of his life at Bea­cons­field Coro­ner’s Court from Jan­uary 23 and gave their con­clu­sions on Fri­day Fe­bru­ary 3.

They con­cluded that there had been a range of fail­ures by the pub­lic bod­ies re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing Jack safe when in cus­tody and when sec­tioned un­der the Men­tal Health Act in hospi­tal.

Jack was lively and out­go­ing grow­ing up and played rugby for Amer­sham and Chiltern Rugby Club, but also bat­tled drug ad­dic­tion.

The in­quest heard how in a bid to get clean Jack de­cided to get caught shoplift­ing, land­ing him with a stint at HMP Wood­hill.

In the Mil­ton Keynes prison he was ex­posed to the drug Spice, which was widely avail­able and led him to de­vel­op­ing psy­chotic symp­toms for the first time.

HMP Wood­hill has been re­peat­edly crit­i­cised by coro­ners and the Prison and Pro­ba­tion Om­buds­man for short­com­ings in its safety pro­ce­dures and pro­tec­tion for its most vul­ner­a­ble pris­on­ers.

The jury ruled that there were fail­ings in Jack’s dis­charge and re­set­tle­ment.

In 2016, HMP Wood­hill recorded the high­est num­ber and high­est rate of self-in­flicted deaths across the en­tire prison es­tate.

Jack was later a pa­tient at the White­leaf Cen­tre, in Ayles­bury.

The jury found fail­ings there in risk as­sess­ment process, com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Jack’s fam­ily, leave sys­tems and how they re­spond to pa­tients ab­sent with­out leave.

Jack died while on a one hour un­escorted com­mu­nity leave from the cen­tre, but his ab­sence went un­no­ticed for 90 min­utes af­ter he was due to re­turn.

The po­lice were not called for more than two hours and his fam­ily were not in­formed he was miss­ing.

In a state­ment re­leased af­ter the ver­dict, the fam­ily of Jack Port­land said: “The fam­ily are grate­ful for the pro­fes­sional ser­vices of the coro­ner’s of­fice and the process they have ex­pe­ri­enced in the past two weeks, and over the past year in prepa­ra­tion for the in­quest of their son, Jack Port­land.

“Los­ing a loved one is very dif­fi­cult, los­ing a child in tragic cir­cum­stances is a life-time sen­tence in re­gret – know­ing the life ex­pe­ri­ences we all en­joy have been cut short for him, wish­ing things were dif­fer­ent.

“One of the last things Jack wrote was ‘life’s short, don’t be lazy’.

“Good ad­vice son and I hope we have done you jus­tice. We value the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the in­quest process and the re­sult­ing find­ings of the jury.

“The cul­mi­na­tion of the in­quest process and the recog­ni­tion of Jack as a per­son, ex­hibit­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a con­stel­la­tion of health con­cerns, demon­strated by the jury’s find­ing that there were fail­ings in his care, is some re­lief to us.

“How­ever, we are sad­dened that the ex­pe­ri­ence of peo­ple with im­paired men­tal health, cou­pled with ad­dic­tion, is con­tin­u­ing to be mis­un­der­stood, a stigma ap­plied and their care mis­man­aged.

“It’s ev­i­dent that so­ci­ety still has a long way to go in treat­ing ev­ery­one with equal con­cern. The fam­ily will con­tinue to try to ef­fect a pos­i­tive change for peo­ple in need of sup­port.”

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