20th February 2014

Monday 24 February 2014 at 1.30pm (listed for 4-6 weeks)
Before HM Assistant Deputy Coroner for Greater Manchester West Alison Hewitt
Sitting at Bolton Coroner’s Court, Paderborn House, Bolton

Jake Hardy was 17 years old when he died on 24 January 2012. He was found hanging in his cell with a ligature attached to the bars over his cell window at HMP and YOI Hindley on 20 January 2012 and died in hospital four days later. Jake was one of three children to die in Young Offenders Institutions from apparently self-inflicted deaths within a ten month period. 

Jake was sentenced to a Detention and Training Order (DTO) on 6 December 2011 and arrived at Hindley later that day.  It was his first time in custody.  He had a number of characteristics which identified him as vulnerable, having previously been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Conduct Disorder, he had a statement of special educational needs, and had recently self-harmed. Jake was placed on a normal location wing, where he remained throughout his time in Hindley. He was in regular contact with the mental heath team. During his time in Hindley Jake reported that he was being bullied by other young people. Jake was sentenced to a further DTO on 13 January 2012; his Youth Offending Service worker recommended he should go to a Secure Training Centre or a specialist unit at HMP and YOI Wetherby.  However, he was returned to Hindley.

On 17 January, Jake damaged property in his cell and self-harmed; as a result, he began to be monitored for suicide and self-harm.  Initially he was put on 5 observations an hour but this was then reduced to 2 per hour. On the evening of 20 January, Jake chose, as he often would, to remain locked in his cell.  The inquest will address whether Jake was being harassed by other young people outside of his cell during this association period, which was being supervised by two prison officers.  That evening Jake again damaged property in his cell and he was not allowed to make a call to his mother.  His cell was cleaned by officers but no further action was taken. Later that evening, the prison officer carrying out observations found Jake with a ligature around his neck.  CPR was performed and an ambulance was called.   Jake was subsequently taken to hospital, however, he never regained consciousness and died on 24 January 2012.

His family hopes the inquest will address, amongst others, the following issues:

  • Whether the placements of Jake in Hindley on 6 December 2011 and 13 January 2012 were appropriate.
  • Whether Jake should have been placed and should have remained on normal location within the prison.
  • Whether the assessments of Jake’s risk of self harm or suicide were adequate.
  • Whether the prison dealt with the reports Jake made of bullying in an appropriate fashion.
  • Whether the emergency response was adequate.
  • Was the training of staff in Hindley regarding, bullying, the risk of self-harm and suicide, learning disabilities, and resuscitation sufficient?

Elizabeth Hardy, Jake Hardy’s mother said:

“I hope the inquest will finally give us some answers as to how Jake died when he was a child. Jake should have been looked after and protected. I expected them to keep him safe.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“It is vital that this inquest ensures proper scrutiny about how a very vulnerable child experiencing his first encounter with the criminal justice system was able to die in such alarming circumstances.

“While the inquest should shed important light on the events surrounding his death, it is limited in scope and held in isolation and will not be able to examine vital questions concerning systemic failures being repeated across the youth justice system. Jake died two days before another 15 year old also took his own life in prison and was one of three children to die in a 10 month period.

“What can be more serious than the death of a vulnerable child while in the care of the state? Jake’s death should serve as a tragic reminder of why a full, independent, holistic review of child deaths in prison is so urgently needed.”

INQUEST has been working with Jake Hardy’s family since his death in January 2012. Jake’s family are represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose solicitors, and Dexter Dias QC and Richard Reynolds, both of Garden Court Chambers.


Notes to editors:

  1. The first two days of the inquest will hear evidence from Jake Hardy’s mother, Elizabeth Hardy, and Jake’s Youth Offending Team (YOT) worker.
  2. There have been 33 deaths of children in penal custody since 1990. Jake Hardy’s death occurred two days before the death of 15 year old Alex Kelly, and nine months after the death of 17 year old Ryan Clark.
  3. INQUEST’s briefing on the need for an independent review of the deaths of both children and young people aged 18-24 is available here
  4. The government’s announcement of a review excluding children is available here