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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Inspection link to inmate's death

Inspection link to inmate's death

A report into the death of a prisoner has suggested he was moved from a jail - where he felt safe - because an inspection was due to take place.

Christopher Wardally, who had mental health problems, hanged himself when back at Wandsworth Prison, in south London, after spending a fortnight at Pentonville jail, in north London.

The ombudsman said an inspection at Wandsworth had "influenced the thinking" of those who moved Wardally.

Wardally, 25, died in June 2009.

It had not been in Wardally's best interests to be transferred to Pentonville, where he had previously tried to kill himself, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) report said.

'Considerable anxiety'

Wardally attempted suicide there again, and three days after being taken back to Wandsworth he was found hanged in his cell.

An investigation previously found that 11 inmates had been switched to different jails to "manipulate the outcomes of inspections".

Wardally was transferred to Pentonville shortly before inspectors arrived at Wandsworth.

The ombudsman found evidence of a "connection" between the two events.

Prison officials have rejected the ombudsman's recommendation for a fresh disciplinary inquiry, saying the matters were dealt with as part of a previous investigation.

The ombudsman said Wardally had been released from prison on licence in March 2009 but had reoffended the following month.

He had been remanded into custody for an unspecified offence.

The ombudsman's report said: "From the evidence of the governors and staff, I am satisfied that, on both 26 and 27 May, anticipation of the forthcoming inspection at Wandsworth influenced the thinking of those responsible for the man's movement around the London prison system."

It added: "I have borne in mind throughout my consideration of the man's transfers between prisons that he was a vulnerable prisoner with mental health difficulties.

"I consider that the transfer on 26 May was not in his best interests. It was an avoidable disruption to his continuity of care.

"The man was removed from a prison where he said he felt safe and was returned to a prison that had caused him considerable anxiety."

Prison video

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The National Offender Management Service carefully considered the PPO's recommendation that a further disciplinary investigation should be held, but concluded that the PPO investigation did not provide any new information to merit a further disciplinary investigation."

Ben Conroy, a lawyer at Wardally's inquest, said the jury found he had hung himself whilst of a disturbed mind, and the movement between prisons had "clearly played a part".

He said Wardally's family had been "extremely upset" by what had happened, and were keen to make sure other people with mental health problems were protected.

He added it was "plainly clear" that some junior prison governors felt a "huge amount of pressure".

Earlier this year, the Wandsworth Guardian newspaper published a video Wardally had made in prison two months before his death.

In it he said: "I want to achieve, I still have targets - get a nine to five, gain some qualifications. Become a qualified mechanic, that was my dream."

He warned young people not to get caught up in drugs or crime and said he was confident he would recover after his time in prison.

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