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4 May 2016

Grieving mothers of young men who died in Glen Parva prison demand action to prevent suicides

The families of three young men who died in Glen Parva prison called today (Wednesday 4 May) for more action to prevent suicides as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons published its latest inspection report on the jail.

The grieving mothers of Greg Revell, Liam Lambert and Jake Foxall joined the Howard League for Penal Reform in demanding major reform of the failing prison system in England and Wales.

It comes less than a week after Ministry of Justice figures showed that the number of men and women who have taken their own lives in prison has almost doubled in three years.

The Howard League is aware of the deaths of eight young men in Glen Parva prison, which holds 18- to 21-year-olds, since 2011. All eight are believed to have taken their own lives. One of them died in hospital while the inspectors were visiting the prison last November.

The Howard League and another charity, Centre for Mental Health, are working together on a joint programme on preventing people from dying by suicide in prison.

Karen Revell, whose 18-year-old son Greg died while on remand in Glen Parva in June 2014, said: “Greg was a much-loved boy. Over 500 people attended his funeral, including teachers from his school. His death has left a hole in all of our hearts and we want to stop any other families from having to go through this living hell. My son should still be alive. Still, to this day, I feel exactly the same as I did when I was told that he had died. It never gets better. I have been ripped to pieces, and I am just lost without him. Deaths by suicide are still happening in Glen Parva and nothing is being done about it. Whole families are being totally destroyed.”

Terri Batcheldor, whose 20-year-old son Liam Lambert died in March 2015, said: “More than a year has passed since Liam died, but I am still waiting for his inquest, which should investigate what happened in Glen Parva prison. I did not want what happened to Liam to happen to anyone else, but it has and I believe it will again.”

Liam’s grandfather, Tim Marshall, said: “It would appear on the surface that there is no, or very little, duty of care exercised in this prison system.”

Mary Foxall, whose 19-year-old son Jake died in Glen Parva in November 2015, said: “To lose a teenage son is every parent’s worst nightmare. No mother should have to go through what I am going through. Jake’s inquest is due to be heard in September, and I hope that it will help to stop more tragedies happening in prison in the future. Glen Parva was the subject of a terrible inspection report in August 2014. When inspectors returned to the prison in November last year, they found it was “a safer prison but not safe enough”.

Today’s report indicates that levels of violence were high and rising. In the six months prior to the inspection there had been 168 assaults on prisoners, of which 42 were serious, and 117 fights. There had been 32 assaults on staff, four of which were serious.

A quarter of prisoners said that they felt unsafe at the time of the inspection, and more than half said that they had felt unsafe at some point. Forty-two per cent of those surveyed said that they felt victimised by other prisoners.

Self-harm had increased – there were 309 incidents in the six months prior to the inspection – and uses of force and segregation were higher than in similar prisons.

Inspectors found that more than a quarter of young men were locked in their cells during the working day. Fully employed prisoners could have about eight hours a day out of their cell, but unemployed men had as little as one hour.

Some cells remained in poor condition and far too many were overcrowded. Most cells designed for one prisoners were in fact holding two.

However, inspectors found that Glen Parva was a “well-led prison” and that relationships between staff and prisoners were very good.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The death toll in prisons is a national scandal and demands immediate action. The visceral pain of the families of the dead calls out to political leaders to put a stop to this. We cannot wait for grand plans, we need action today. The only way to protect people is to reduce the unnecessary use of prison and then to make sure resources are allocated for people who really need custody.”

Deaths in Glen Parva

The Howard League is aware of the deaths of eight young men in Glen Parva since 2011. All eight are believed to have taken their own lives, although inquests in two of the cases are yet to be heard.

May 2011 – a 21-year-old man
November 2011 – a 19-year-old man
December 2011 – a 19-year-old man
April 2013 – a 20-year-old man
September 2013 – a 21-year-old man
June 2014 – Greg Revell, 18
March 2015 – Liam Lambert, 20*
November 2015 – Jake Foxall, 19*

*Inquests yet to be heard

 Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. A copy of the Glen Parva inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from Wednesday 4 May.
  3. Glen Parva prison was criticised by the coroner who heard Greg Revell’s inquest in April 2015. A BBC News report of the hearing can be found online.
  4. The Howard League and Centre for Mental Health are working together on a joint programme on preventing people from dying by suicide in prison. Further information about the programme can be found on the Howard League website.
  5. The Howard League’s briefing paper, The cost of prison suicide, can be read online.
  6. The Ministry of Justice’s most recent ‘Safety in Custody’ statistical bulletin can be viewed online.


Rob Preece
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