Emily Thornberry MP calls for ‘duty of care’ investigation into Pentonville death and for prison to be closed

pentonville 1850s

The local MP has called for an investigation of the Ministry of Justice’s exercise of an appropriate duty of care to murdered Jamal Mahmoud at HMP Pentonville.   The failure of a relevant ‘duty of care’ is at the heart of a corporate manslaughter investigation.

In a letter to the Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, who is responsible for prisons Emily Thornberry said:

‘The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will now be looking into the killing of Jamal Mahmoud. It is essential that this investigation addresses the issue of whether Mr Mahmoud could have been protected from harm, so I hope that you will be able to assure me that the terms of reference of the Ombudsman’s investigation will be sufficiently broad to address the question of whether HMP Pentonville had exercised the appropriate duty of care towards Mr Mahmoud throughout his time in the prison.
‘I understand that terms of reference are set in relation to the investigation of each death in prison – as this was a homicide in a prison where there was already grave cause for concern, I would hope that you will make the terms of reference of the investigation publicly available.’

[Scans of letter, text of letter]

This follows our call on this site for a corporate manslaughter investigation into Ministry of Justice’s management and support of the prison that Michael Gove, when Lord Chancellor described as a failure and that has been condemned by many external inspections.  We were supported in this by Cllr Convery.

Emily Thornberry went on to support local councillors’ calls for the prison to be closed, first made six years ago, echoing calls from 1938 in The Spectator of all places to turn the prison site into housing.  The rise in violence we have documented has been horrific.

No doubt the government will soon produce more fine words on prison reform and yet another re-organisation.  But  structural changes are meaningless without staff and money.  Prison staff and money have been cut back too far.  When the police and courts send people to prison they assume they will be safe – it’s for the police and the courts to snap the government out of it’s reorganisational reverie by making them face up to issues of corporate manslaughter.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust and Tinder Foundation.
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One Response to Emily Thornberry MP calls for ‘duty of care’ investigation into Pentonville death and for prison to be closed

  1. The whole Justice system is in disarray and as the head of the Prison Officer’s Association has just said on television, this government bears most of the blame, although previous governments did not do much about it. I am a former court interpreter, I write “former” although I have just interpreted at a trial at the Old Bailey as I took pity on the agency that hired me, but successive Conservative governments, starting with Chris Grayling as Justice Minister, have treated court interpreters like dirt, cutting their fees until they work out at well below minimum wage, taking account of travel, and the difficulty of this highly skilled job. I have visited prisons in the course of my work and they are a disgrace. I have something to compare them with,as I was also an interpreter in the USA and have visited prisons there. The Victorian Slum programme on television is heaven compared with the conditions in most of our prisons! They are filthy, crawling with vermin with inadequate cleaning and toilet facilities, overcrowded etc. Lynn Truss, the minister was on TV this morning, with the usual platitudes about prison needing to be a punishment, etc. Incarceration is a punishment in itself.

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