10am, Monday 14 March 2016

Milton Keynes Coroner’s Court, Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, Central Milton Keynes MK9 3EJ
Before Senior Coroner Tom Osbourne

44-year-old Ian Brown, from Northampton, was found hanging in his cell in HMP Woodhill on 19 July 2015. The inquest into his death will be heard before a jury at Milton Keynes Coroner’s court from 14 March. The hearing is due to last seven days.

Ian was the 3rd of 5 prisoners to take their own life in HMP Woodhill in 2015. The highest number of self-inflicted deaths in any prison in the country in 2015. There have been a further 2 self-inflicted and one unclassified death in HMP Woodhill so far this year. The last as recently as 5th March.

Ian suffered from depression and paranoid schizophrenia. Whilst at HMP Woodhill he was under the care of the prison’s mental health team and a psychiatrist.

The Inquest will hear that he arrived in HMP Woodhill on 12 January 2015. He was monitored under the suicide and self-harm management programme for 3 separate periods and spent some time as an inpatient on the healthcare unit. He twice saw a psychiatrist and was seen regularly by members of the mental health team until 5 June when his allocated nurse went off sick. He was not then seen again by anyone from mental health before his death.

The Inquest will hear that Ian constantly asked his family for money and said he was in debt. He told officers he was being bullied and they moved him to another wing but his allegation was not investigated and he was not afforded victim support. He had requested that the prison pay money out to people he described as family. In fact, they were not his relatives but relatives of others prisoners in HMP Woodhill with him. This information was not acted upon by the prison.

The Inquest will hear that shortly before lock up for lunch on 19 July Ian told an officer that his television had been stolen from his cell. This had happened before. On 30 May he told an officer that prisoners had stolen his television from his cell and that he would hang himself. He was put on raised observations as a result.   Over lunch on 19 July Ian pressed his cell bell and asked to speak to a Senior Officer but was told none was available until after lunch. Ian was found hanged in his cell at 1310pm on 19th July.

Ian’s family hope that the inquest will be able to address serious questions and concerns they have about the care and treatment Ian received while at Woodhill, including:

  • The adequacy of the prisons response and management of Ian’s risks and mental health needs;
    • The fact Ian was not seen by the mental health team when his allocated nurse went off ill;
    • The apparent failure by the prison to deal with Ian's allegations of bullying.

They are particularly concerned that lessons are not being learnt by the prison as demonstrated by the high number of deaths this year. This is a particular concern for them as another relative took his own life in HMP Woodhill some years ago. They wait with interest to hear what the Governor of HMP Woodhill, Rob Davis, has to say about this when he gives evidence towards the end of the inquest.

Deborah Coles, Director of Inquest said:

One of the main functions of the inquest process is to learn lessons from deaths to prevent it happening again. In the case of HMP Woodhill, it seems that despite the Coroner’s recommendations, deaths in similar circumstances are continuing to take place.   The HMIP report on Woodhill, which has been published today exposes a huge accountability gap.   This inquest must address endemic problems in this institution and look at why another vulnerable person was able to take his life in this way”

The family is represented at the inquest/hearing by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Jo Eggleton from Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and barrister Alex Gask from Doughty Street chambers.

INQUEST has been working with the family of Ian Brown since July 2015.  The family is represented by Inquest Lawyers Group members Jo Eggleton from Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and barrister Alex Gask from Doughty Street chambers.


Notes to editors:

Inquest response to the HMIP inspection on Woodhill can be found here. http://www.inquest.org.uk/media/news/inquest-responds-to-hmip-report-on-woodhill-prison