Police are investigating the death of a baby at a private women’s prison in Surrey amid reports the mother gave birth alone in her cell at night.
South East Coast Ambulance Service were called to HMP Bronzefield, Europe’s largest female prison, at 8.30am last Friday. Officers from Surrey police said they were also called half an hour later following reports of the death of a child.
An investigation has since been launched at the site, which in the past has been praised for its mother and baby services by the government’s Inspectorate of Prisons, as well as its commitment to provide midwifery care to inmates.
The prison’s operator, services company Sodexo, said that while investigations were ongoing it could not confirm or deny reports in The Guardian that the mother had been alone in her prison cell for the birth and death of her child.
Prison director Vicky Robinson said: “We are supporting the mother through this distressing time and our thoughts are with her, her family and our staff involved”.
“We are undertaking a full review and working with all relevant authorities during their investigations.
“It would not be appropriate to comment any further.”
A statement from Surrey Police added: “The death is currently being treated as unexplained and an investigation is continuing to establish the full circumstances of what happened.”
The prison has been subject to scrutiny in the past – including in 2016 when inmate Natasha Chin was found to have died in her cell less than 36 hours after arriving at Bronzefield.
Last year an inquest said the death was caused by a systemic failure through poor governance which led to a lack of basic care” and was “contributed to by neglect”.
An investigation by The Independent shortly after the inquest was concluded found another inmate had died in the prison between 25 August and 3 September.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies