Families of jail deaths men to hear case result over self-inflicted deaths rate

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Relatives of two men who died in Woodhill prison are to learn the result of their High Court case over the ''exceptionally high'' rate of self-inflicted deaths at the jail.

Ian Brown, 44, hanged himself in his cell at the category A prison in July last year while Daniel Dunkley, 35, died a few days after he was found suspended by a ligature in his cell later the same month.

Mr Brown's mother and sister, Pearl Scarfe and Julie Barber, and Mr Dunkley's brother, Jamie Blyde, who is himself a prisoner, want the court to order Woodhill's governor and the Secretary of State for Justice to comply with the requirements of the Prison Service Instructions (PSIs).

They cover management of prisoners at risk of harm to self, to others and from others, early days in custody and medical emergency response codes.

On Tuesday, Lord Justice Irwin and Mr Justice Garnham will give their decision on the judicial review claim which the governor and the Secretary of State say is ''neither appropriate nor necessary''.

In London last month, Heather Williams QC, for the families, said the claim addressed the ''exceptionally high'' current rate of self-inflicted deaths at the Milton Keynes prison.

There were seven self-inflicted deaths last year, five in 2015 and 18 at the prison since May 2013.

She said the case raised serious ongoing breaches of the most fundamental provisions within Article 2 of the Human Rights Act, which protects the right to life, and involved grave, long-term failures to comply with the great responsibility placed on the authorities to protect prisoners.

James Strachan QC said the governor was well aware of his obligations to comply with the requirements of the PSIs and, with the support of the Secretary of State, continued to take steps to ensure those obligations were met.

''The defendants do not dispute that the number of deaths at the prison is a legitimate matter of concern. It calls for action to be taken.

''However, not only have the governor and the Secretary of State taken significant action in 2016 to improve the situation, but as the taskforce approach shows, this is a continuing high priority."