Prison guards, but not mothers, take advice after baby dies in cell | Prisons and probation

A frail 18-year-old whose baby died after her cries for help was ignored as she gave birth alone in a prison cell was not given loss support support-but the prison guards who failed to get his medical help were offered advice, the Observer can be disclosed.

Details are buried in a destructive report from a prison guard published last week described how the teenager was found in bed cradling her dead baby more than 12 hours after ringing her cell bell and telling staff at HMP Bronzefield’s private operation that he needed of an ambulance.

It has also emerged since the report was published that those who ignored his calls for help will remain working at the prison in Ashford, Surrey.

The girl, in jail for the first time, is in remand facing a theft charge. He worked, and records show that on the night of September 26, 2019 he called for help three times but no one came.

By 11pm he was in constant pain and could not reach his cell bell. After the death, he turned around to see his baby girl who was there but not breathing. He bit the umbilical cord and tried to wipe the blood from his cell before climbing into bed.

Prisons and probation ombudsman Sue McAllister listed a catalog of failures and found maternity services in Bronzefield to be “outdated and inadequate”.

Despite nightly examinations by the guards, the infant’s death was only discovered after two inmates raised the alarm. A nurse was called but failed to revive the baby. Eventually the support staff was offered from external advisors.

But, surprisingly, the PPO report found: “The involvement of the police and coroner immediately after Baby A’s death, and the prison’s lack of understanding about the role of the local team investigating the child’s death, meant it was not accepted. Ms. A’s routine loss and practical support that would normally be provided. “

McAllister said Ms A was considered to have a “bad habit” rather than a frail 18-year-old who refused care because she feared her baby would be removed.

She even told a nurse that she would “kill herself” if her baby was taken care of but the prison failed to increase surveillance.

Deborah Coles, the charity’s executive director Ask, Said: “Their view of her as a poor woman informs her treatment – both during pregnancy and subsequent disregard for bell cells. The further complete contempt in her case for not giving bereavement advice is indicates a broader culture in Bronzefield, which should be a prisoner with informed trauma. ”

Ms A entered the jail on 14 August 2019, along with a nurse who noted she had “asthma, chest infection and looked pregnant”. Seven months earlier he had been assigned to the “child care” status of Camden’s social services in London.

Coles said: “The main question we need to ask is why he was in prison in the first place – he could and should be kept safe in the community.” The report revealed that Ms A was released on bail on October 17, 2019 but it is not clear why she was not granted bail for the first time.

It was also learned that another inmate from HMP Bronzefield gave birth to a full-term dead baby in an ambulance en route to hospital in December 2017.

The cases raise important questions about safety of pregnant prisoners and their unborn babies.

A new mother who served half a six -month sentence while pregnant has been told Observer: “It was a very toxic place. I suffered from loneliness and cried every day. I was worried that stress could cause a miscarriage.”

Olivia, who was convicted for the first offense at eight weeks pregnant, declined to name the prison but described the experience that left her suffering from PTSD. He said: “The bathroom is open inside my shared cell, where it’s hard for you to deal with morning sickness. I was asked to clean the loos, and the pregnant women were forced to sweep the floor – it was not a safe place for pregnant women. “

On one occasion when he was bleeding he asked for a nurse but he was not given privacy. “He wanted me to open my legs with the cell door open and the male guards standing outside,” he recalls. “I was so scared I lost the baby and had to wait five days to see a midwife.”

The organizations Level Up, Women In Prison, at Childbirth Companions launched a petition calling for an end to the imprisonment of pregnant women.

Kate Paradine, chief executive of WIP, said: “The government could prevent another tragedy and strengthen the law to stop the incarceration of pregnant women, to ensure that the judicial rules that courts need to consider the pregnancy and the best interests of the children in judgment decisions. always applied. “

Ang latest figures of the Ministry of Justice show 31 women who gave birth while serving prison sentences in the year to March 2021. While 28 gave birth in the hospital and none were born in the cells, three were transported to the hospital.

The MoJ said improvements had been made since Ms A’s baby died. This included all women having free telephone access to local NHS pregnancy advice services and increased monitoring in the third. trimester.

Vicky Robinson, director of HMP Bronzefield, said the prison was working to implement a raft of recommendations made by the ombudsman. He confirmed an internal inquiry and disciplinary investigations had taken place, and appropriate steps had been taken with the staff.

He said: “We apologize so much that this happened and our thoughts on the whole situation are with us as a family … We are seriously considering this matter and are committed to providing the best care possible. “

A spokesman for the Judicial Office said: “Decisions about granting or denying bail are made by the court on a case -by -case basis. When determining whether to grant bail, magistrates and judges are guided by the relevant provisions accordingly. in law and case law. “

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