An inquest is looking into the suicide of a prisoner at HMP Durham following a spate of cases of prisoners taking their own lives. Garry Beadle was found hanging in his cell on February 7, 2019 and died in hospital four days later. He was on remand and had only been in the prison in Durham for six days. It was his first time in prison, and he had been on suicide and self-harm monitoring procedures at the time of his death. Prior to his suicide, a close friend had contacted the police about concerns of a risk of suicide.
According to monitoring statistics collated by INQUEST, Durham has had the highest number of self-inflicted deaths of any prison this past year with five prisoners taking their lives in the 12 months ending September 2020. The inquest will examine the jail’s response to prisoners at high risk of suicide in the prison, the increased risk of suicide in remand prisoners and the training provided to prison officers in relation to suicide.
HMP Durham is recorded as having the highest number of self-inflicted death, alongside HMP Woodhill and HMP Leeds, with 25 deaths over the past ten years. Following an unannounced inspection of Durham in October 2018, Peter Clarke, the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, highlighted, as ‘an overriding concern’, the lack of safety of safety in the prison. ‘Since the last inspection in October 2016, there had been seven self-inflicted deaths, and it was disappointing to see that the response to recommendations from the Prison and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) had not been addressed with sufficient vigour or urgency,’ he wrote. In the report, one of the main recommendations to the governor was that the management of prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm should be given a high priority.