6th March 2013

Today the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman publishes a ‘Learning the Lessons’ bulletin on child deaths. It examines the underlying circumstances and background to the three self-inflicted deaths of children in 2011 and 2012. In the bulletin, the Ombudsman expresses his hope that “lessons are learned”.

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“We welcome this bulletin but sadly the issues it raises are not unique and are a depressingly familiar feature of previous deaths.

“There have been 34 deaths of children in prison custody since 1990. We have helped many of their families through inquest after inquest raising the same issues and, despite promises of change, the deaths continue.

“There is an urgent need to learn from the failings that cost all these children their lives. The government needs to act. An independent, holistic inquiry, where these issues are examined in the context of the entire system of detention for children, is long overdue. It’s time to break the cycle of harm and death.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. INQUEST is working with the families and legal teams of all three of the children whose deaths are examined in the PPO Bulletin. The inquests into the three deaths have not yet taken place.
  1. The bulletin is available on the PPO website
  1. ‘Fatally Flawed: Has the state learned lessons from the deaths of children and young people in custody’, an evidence based report by INQUEST was commissioned by the Prison Reform Trust. It was published in October 2012. For a summary of the findings please see INQUEST’s press release. The full report can be accessed here
  1. INQUEST’s book on child deaths in penal custody ‘In the care of the State’, published in 2005, is also available here