The inquest into the death of a man who took his own life at HMP Wormwood Scrubs starts today. Winston Augustine was 43-years-old and on remand when he was found hanging in his cell in August 2018. He had been held in the segregation unit at the time of his death and had been transferred there under restraint 48 hours earlier.
During the two days Augustine spent in the segregation unit, officers on the ward did not open his door to check up on him, he was not given any food and was only given a low dose of his pain relief medication. His family have described him as a caring man who adored his family. He had been working with the arts charity, Safe Ground which focused on using drama to support current and former prisoners—a year before his death, he accepted the Longford Prize on their behalf from Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow.
Tragically, there has been a 42% increase in deaths in prisons across the UK in the past 12 months. Since 2015, 23 men have died at Wormwood Scrubs — 11 of the deaths were self-inflicted.
Winston Augustine’s family is concerned that Winston had no history of mental ill health or self-harming behaviour to their knowledge and have questions about the treatment he received from prison staff. They hope that the long-anticipated inquest will answer questions around whether the hourly checks were completed—as required for individuals held in the segregation unit; whether he received adequate treatment in the segregation unit and whether officers adequately monitored Winston’s wellbeing in the prison.