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INQUEST response to the conclusion of the inquest of 16 year old Daniel Adewole at HMYOI Cookham Wood
26 April 2017
Today the inquest into the death of Daniel Adewole concluded, after a three-day hearing. Daniel Adewole, 16, was found unresponsive in his cell following an epileptic fit at Cookham Wood in 2015.
Coroner Patricia Harding concluded that prison officers should have entered the cell of Daniel Adewole much sooner. Officers waited 38 minutes, after they first received no response at Daniel’s cell door, before opening his door. They even went for a cigarette before checking his safety.
Daniel is the second boy to die at Cookham Wood since 2012. In the investigation into the previous death, Alex Kelly there were also concerns that staff delayed going into the boy’s cell during the night.
Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said:
“Daniel was vulnerable, both because he was a child and he suffered from epilepsy. The inquest into his death raises the question, why was this boy in prison in the first place? At 16 years old Daniel was left to die alone on the floor of a prison cell, all for the sake of a 6 month sentence.
There were serious concerns about the failure of staff to enter Daniel’s cell on multiple occasions, despite his vulnerability. The staff with Daniel supposedly in their care also had a complete lack of awareness of his condition, and of what to do in case of emergency.
Only two years previously, a PPO investigation also identified that staff had failed to open cell doors and had a delayed response to a child in danger. The prison said they would review procedures and ensure there is no delay when there is potential risk to the life of a child. However, lessons clearly were not learned.
Prisons for children and young people such as YOIs are currently in crisis. A recent report by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture also identified serious concerns about Cookham Wood and the state of these prisons. We echo their calls for an urgent review of the current operational model.”
David Adewole, father of Daniel said:
“There are glaring failures at Cookham Wood that have resulted in Daniel’s death. He was epileptic and the medical experts stated that people do not die from this illness. Daniel should have been better cared for and monitored whilst he was in their care.
With early intervention, I believe Daniel would still be alive today. To hear that officers went for a cigarette when they should have been checking on his welfare is horrendous. I am shocked that there was a delay in entering Daniel’s cell once they realised something was wrong. This is totally unacceptable. Is this how we treat children.”
NOTE TO EDITORS
1. The full Committee for the Prevention of Torture report on UK detention can be found here. The recommendation made by the CPT is as follows:
“The CPT recommends that the United Kingdom authorities urgently review the current operating model of the YOIs and STCs with a view to ensuring that, if exceptionally necessary to hold juveniles in detention, the secure juvenile estate is truly juvenile-centred and based on the concept of small well-staffed living units.”
2. The Howard League brought a Judicial Review on behalf of a boy who was held in prolonged solitary confinement in Feltham prison on Tuesday 25 April. Lack of time out of cell and meaningful activity in children’s prison is a broadly held concern on the youth justice estate.
3. HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that 41% of boys said they had felt unsafe in HMYOI Cookham Wood on their most recent inspection, and were generally concerned about safety.
‘Let me record my thanks to and appreciation and admiration for the organisation INQUEST… That organisation, which is based in my constituency, has done amazingly good work over a long period in supporting the families of people who have died in custody. Nothing is popular about such cases, but the organisation has been dogged in pursuing them. I think we should appreciate the value of civil society organisations of that kind which do so much to promote decent standards and liberty, and which help the House to produce better legislation.’
– Jeremy Corbyn MP