Prisoner died of cancer while still chained to prison guard


A 67-year-old prisoner with terminal liver cancer died while still chained to a guard as he underwent end of life treatment in hospital, it has emerged.

The inmate, who has not been named, had been convicted of manslaughter in 1969 and was unable to move unaided. He had lost all contact with his family and had been compliant with the prison regime, the report found.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) said managers at category C HMP Channings Wood did not show appropriate compassion or act upon medical evidence by failing to remove the handcuffs.

The case was one of 51 incidents in the past five years in which the prison authorities used inappropriate levels of restraint on inmates, in the majority of cases when they were in hospital.

This accounted for more than one in 10 of all deaths by natural causes in jail over the period and comes amid mounting concern over the standard of care afforded Britain’s ageing and ailing prison population. Inmates aged over 60 are now the fastest growing section of the prison population and last year the number of deaths in custody by natural causes was 142 – up 20 on the previous year.

PPO Nigel Newcomen, who investigates all inmate deaths, said the Prison Service was too heavy-handed in its treatment of many seriously ill and dying inmates. “There is, inevitably, a balance to be struck between decency and security. However our investigations have shown that the correct balance is not consistently being achieved. Too often an overly risk-averse approach is taken when frail, immobile or even unconscious prisoners remain restrained,” he said.

In another case highlighted in the Learning Lessons Bulletin, a bed-ridden prisoner in his 70s had restraints reapplied while he was cared for in a hospice, despite an earlier order to remove them.

In the third example, a category A prisoner serving a life sentence since 1999, and who was considered a significant escape risk, was shackled for four days while in a medically-induced coma, following a medical procedure after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He had previously been escorted by three guards and made to wear double shackles while he was transported.

Campaign groups said ministers must act urgently to put an end to the use of unnecessary restraints while  patients are undergoing treatment or travelling to and from hospital.

Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon said: “No one is talking about luxury or special treatment here but, in the interests of common humanity and decency, justice and health ministers must now review the treatment of increasing numbers of elderly people and those dying in prison.”

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform said: “Some of the cases outlined in this bulletin are truly shocking. Prisoners who are seriously ill or dying are among the most vulnerable people in society and it beggars belief that even being in a medically-induced coma cannot excuse you from restraint.”

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “The use of restraints during escorts must always be proportionate to risk but sometimes is necessary to protect the public and prison officers from violent offenders.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power