WordPress database error: [Table 'thejusticegap_w760.wpso_ppress_sessions' doesn't exist]
SELECT * FROM wpso_ppress_sessions WHERE session_key = '764bd180e62417f61d30aa437527ea0c'

Prison ombudsman launches investigation after woman dies at HMP Styal – The Justice Gap
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
August 14 2022
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

Prison ombudsman launches investigation after woman dies at HMP Styal

Prison ombudsman launches investigation after woman dies at HMP Styal

Beyond the Wall, HMP Glenochil, Koestler Trust

An investigation has been launched into the death of an inmate in an all-women’s prison and young offender institution in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Eileen McDonagh was a resident at Her Majesty’s Prison Styal and died in custody on July 2nd. The Prison Service confirmed that the death had been referred to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO), an independent body that investigates deaths in custody.

At the time of the last inspection in autumn 2021, the Category C prison held 362 women, and was found to be facing serious challenges as a result of staff shortages – with almost a third of basic grade prison officer posts unfilled. The Prison Inspectorate found that levels of violence had risen, and that much of the accommodation was found to be ‘substandard’. Inspectors also found that women with acute mental health issues often ended up in ‘completely unsuitable conditions’ in the ‘bleak’ segregation unit.

Since 2001, at least twelve women have died at the prison, which was originally built as an orphanage in the late 1800s.  Six self-inflicted deaths in the space of a year prompted the government to commission the landmark Corston Report in 2006 (available to view here). Published in 2007, the Corston Report called for radical change in the treatment of women in the criminal justice system. In response to the findings of the repor, the Ministry of Justice launched its ‘Female Offender Strategy’ in 2018. However, four years later, the National Audit Office found the strategy to be underfunded, with only ‘limited progress’ made.

The prison was also condemned by the PPO and numerous campaign groups in 2020 when prisoner Louise Powell gave birth to a baby in her cell, after staff ignored her complaints of severe pain and did not call an ambulance when asked. As previously reported by The Justice Gap, the investigation into the incident found that the birth might have taken place in hospital with proper clinical care and medication ‘instead of in a prison toilet with untrained staff’ had there been a proper support been provided.