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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 19:20 GMT 20:20 UK
Feltham suicide 'aided by neglect'
Feltham Young Offenders' Institution
There have been a number of suicides at Feltham
An inquest jury has decided that neglect contributed to the suicide of a 16-year-old found hanging in his cell at Feltham Young Offenders' Institution in west London.

Kevin Jacobs was found in his single cell hanging by the neck from a sheet tied to the bars in September 2001.

The jury at Hammersmith and Fulham Coroner's Court was told that he had a "phenomenal history" of self harm.

He had been 10 weeks into a six-months' detention and training order for robbery and assault.

Kevin Jacobs
Kevin was said to be increasingly unhappy before he died

Jacobs had been in the care of Lambeth Social Services at the time of his death and was said to be anxious about where he would be placed on his release.

He had wanted to return to his former care home in Guildford, but had been told by Lambeth it would not be possible.

The inquest had been told Jacobs had been moved between units at Feltham and had spent time in the health care unit.

Two weeks before his death he had managed to hang himself to the point of unconsciousness before two prison officers found him.

He was then put on hourly checks, but was not under constant observation.


They should have had 15-minute checks - if they had done that Kevin would still be alive

Gabbie Jacobs, father

The jury foreman said that "systematic neglect" had played a part in the suicide.

The decision was based on "gross deficiency" involving lack of co-ordination and sharing information between the relevant authorities.

The jury also found there was a failure to provide a consistent and safe environment.

Jacobs' father Gabbie Jacobs said after the inquest the family were very happy with the verdict.

Prison blamed

But they wanted to know more about the circumstances and blamed Feltham staff for not carrying out more frequent checks.

"We have not finished and we want it to go through the courts so other people all over the world will know about it", Mr Jacobs said.

"I blame the prison because they should have had 15-minute checks and not hourly checks.

"If they had done that Kevin would still be alive today."

New measures

The Governor of Feltham, Nick Pascoe, defended his staff and told BBC London he believed steps had already been taken to deal with some of the issues raised at the inquest.

One measure is to increase the number of safe cells to prevent suicide.

"There are initiatives underway already to deal with some of the issues in looking after young people in custody.

"We are part of a national project to produce measures to reduce the amount of self-harm in young offender institutions," he said.

In July 2001, the former Chief Inspector of Prisons, Sir David Ramsbotham, said Feltham should be privatised because of its widespread problems.

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BBC London's Kurt Barling reports
"Kevin Jacobs' family were in court today"

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