Before HM Coroner Jonathan Leach
Wakefield Coroner’s Court

Opens 4 December, 10am – expected to last 2 weeks

An inquest into the death of 26 year old Katie Hamilton will begin on Monday 4 December 2017. Katie died in hospital three days after being found unconscious with a ligature, whilst a secure mental health inpatient at the Becklin Centre in Leeds on the 9 March 2016. Throughout her life Katie campaigned and volunteered to support others with mental health difficulties.

Katie had a long history of self-harm and contact with mental health services. On 6 March Katie took an overdose and was detained under the Mental Health Act for assessment (s.2) in St James Hospital. She made numerous suicide attempts there before being transferred to the Becklin Centre on 9 March.

Due to Katie becoming agitated, police officers on the ward became involved in her transfer, physically restraining her in the process. On arrival at the Becklin Centre, Katie’s observation levels were set to every 15 mins rather than constant monitoring. Only a few hours after her arrival, she was found unconscious with a ligature and later died.

Katie’s family hopes the inquest consider the following issues:

  • The management and decisions surrounding the level of observations on 9th March 2016.
  • The appropriateness and adequacy of the handover between doctors and nursing staff in Becklin Centre.
  • The management and treatment of Katie’s disorder by the community mental health team.
  • The restraint of Katie by police at St James’ Hospital.

Emma Hamilton, Katie’s mother said: 
“Katie is deeply missed by all those who knew and loved her. She gave much to us all and her community, regularly volunteering her time to support and advocate for those with mental health difficulties. Her unique voice can never be replaced.

In her memory we have raised money to compile a book for frontline services such as the Police and A&E staff, to encourage better support for people with mental ill health, with writing by Katie and others. It is a project that Katie would have been so very proud of.”

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said:
“We are increasingly concerned about the number of deaths of women in mental health settings and the standards of care afforded them at a time of great vulnerability. We hope this inquest will shine a light on the closed world of mental health detention and scrutinise the use of restraint by police on a young woman in distress.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

For further information and to note your interest contact us

  • INQUEST has been working with Katie’s family since 2016. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Gemma Vine of Minton Morrill Solicitors and Alan weir of Parklane Plowden Chambers.

  • A photo of Katie is available on request.
  • Research by Agenda has found that restraint is disproportionately used on women and girls in mental health units. More information here.

  • ‘Seni’s Law’, a Bill to reduce use of restraint in mental health units and increase oversight and management, as well as improve arrangements between police and mental health units, passed through a second reading in Parliament in November. More information here.