Family wrongly told son had killed himself in prison after 'mix-up' at HMP Birmingham

Labour MP Stephen Doughty has called for an investigation into the mistake

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 10 May 2016 23:03
G4S says it is confident the call did not come from HMP Birmingham
G4S says it is confident the call did not come from HMP Birmingham

MPs have heard how a family were wrongly told their son had killed himself in a prison “mix-up”.

The family of an unnamed HMP Birmingham inmate received a call saying he had taken his own life earlier this month, but 30 minutes later they received another call saying there was a mix-up and their son was still alive, his local MP, Labour's Stephen Doughty said.

Mr Doughty called for an investigation into the error, also saying his constituent had faced a “lengthy bureaucratic process” to transfer him to a secure mental health unit.

Speaking in the Commons, the Cardiff South and Penarth MP said: "I share the concerns of many honourable members about the situation involving prisoners with mental health issues and the risks they pose, not only to themselves but also to others, and the concerns that the staffing cuts are having on that.

"I've been in correspondence with the minister about a specific constituent of mine, who has endured a lengthy bureaucratic process about potential transfer to a secure mental health unit that would be more adequate for his needs.

"But also I'm sorry to say that his family had a call this month telling them that he had killed himself, only to be told half an hour later that he hadn't.

"That's an extraordinary situation, and I think I'd like to see the minister investigating that fully and also to be looking very closely at the case that has been made for him to be transferred away from HMP Birmingham, where he's currently being held."

Prisons Minister, Andrew Selous, said he had apologised to the family in writing and said he would discuss it further with Mr Doughty.

Mr Selous replied: "I'd certainly like to apologise to the family through you for being given terrible news like that that clearly wasn't true, and if you'd like to write to me again - or indeed even come and see me - about that particular issue, I'd be more than happy to further discuss it with you."

G4S, who runs the prison, told the BBC it had checked phone records and said it did not believe the call had come from its prison.

The Samaritans provides a free support service for those who need to talk to someone. It can be contacted through or on 08457 90 90 90, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

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