Help jailed addicts, demands mother

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A GRIEVING mother today demanded more help for prisoners addicted to drugs after her daughter was found hanged in a cell.

Linda Logan said she feared many other women prisoners were in the same position as her daughter, Tracey, whose death she described as "preventable". "The warning signs were there and they just weren't acted upon. It really, really worries me," she added.

Mrs Logan was speaking after today's inquest, held in Warrington, Cheshire, by coroner Mr John Hibbert, where a jury returned a majority verdict of suicide. The jury of six men and three women heard how Tracey Logan, a chambermaid from Manchester, was admitted to Risley Prison, in Styal, on August 22 last year after being sentenced to 12 months for theft at Bolton Crown Court.

Despite a long history of heroin addiction, the 24-year-old was not considered a suicide risk and after her first night, was consigned to a single cell. Three days later she was found slumped behind her cell door by a prison warden with a ligature made from torn blue pyjamas hanging around her neck.

The governor of Risley, Kathleen Dawson, said she first saw Tracey for a 10-minute interview the day after she arrived at the Cheshire prison.

"We asked if she was withdrawing and had she been taking illegal drugs and she identified that she had and she would be withdrawing," the inquest was told.

When questioned by Ruth Bundey, solicitor for the Logan family, over measures taken with prisoners considered a suicide risk, Mrs Dawson said they would be given the option of sharing cells and put on 15-minute watch.

She added: "I thought that she [Logan] looked quite well. I was quite happy, as I say, about her competence to cope and her confidence to cope with being in a single cell and going about her normal activities."

The jury heard how Mrs Dawson had cause to rebuke the prisoner for spending too long on the telephone and also how her boyfriend had, a day later, failed in his attempts to bring drugs into Risley.

Dr R P Wilson Ranawickrema, head of healthcare at Risley, said Logan was undergoing a methadone programme when she was admitted to the prison. At Risley, she was prescribed Dihydrocodeine, another standard medication for opiate withdrawal which was considered less open to abuse. Dr Ranawickrema said there was no methadone programme at Risley.

The jury heard from prison warden Robert Whittaker, who was the last person to see Logan alive. He said he had not been informed of any problems on the day leading up to her death nor was he told of the failed smuggling attempt. When he started the shift on Saturday night, he checked her cell at around 8.30pm when Logan was sitting on her bed. She was not depressed, said Mr Whittaker.

But Diane Edwards, a friend of Logan's on remand at Risley at the time, said she left her fellow prisoner sobbing in her cell at around 4.30pm on the day before she was found dead.

Ruth Bundey, who works closely with the pressure group Inquest, added: "Drugs-related deaths in prison are very, very common."

Miss Bundey said Logan's family would be writing to their local MP and taking up the issue with the Home Office Prison Service.