Two women receive damages over Woodhill prison suicide

Published
image captionThere have been 20 self-inflicted deaths at the prison since May 2013.

Damages are to be paid to relatives of a man who killed himself at a top security jail where 20 men have taken their own lives since 2013.

Ian Brown, 44, had mental health issues and was found dead at Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes in July 2015.

His mother and sister, Pearl Scarfe and Julie Barber, sued the prison governor and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The High Court approved a £17,500 settlement under article two of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Alex Gask, representing Mrs Scarfe, 82, told the court Mr Brown had threatened to take his own life just over a month before he died.

Had the case gone to trial, one of the issues would have been whether this "gave rise to a real and immediate risk" and whether appropriate steps were taken, he said.

Some of the money would be saved for Mrs Scarfe's funeral expenses, and she hoped to be laid to rest alongside her son, he said.

Mrs Scarfe and Mrs Barber had failed at the High Court in April last year to order Woodhill's governor and the MoJ to comply with the requirements of the Prison Service Instructions.

Two senior judges said the order was "neither appropriate nor necessary".

A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons in June concluded the number of self-inflicted deaths at HMP Woodhill was a "huge concern".

Prisons minister Rory Stewart said efforts were under way to recruit more staff, with 55 more officers in post this year than in October 2016 and a further 32 due to start by the end of November.

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