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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 18:26 GMT
Private prison blame over suicide
James Barclay
James Barclay's death might have been prevented
The suicide of a remand prisoner at Scotland's only private jail might have been avoided if staff had carried out their duties, a sheriff has found.

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the death of James Barclay, 30, also criticised Premier Prisons, the company that runs the Kilmarnock jail.

Nationalist MSP Alex Neil demanded the prison is brought back into the control of the Scottish Prison Service.

Undercover BBC filming recently alleged problems with how the jail was run.

Observation of prisoners

Mr Barclay had been remanded in prison three days before he was found hanging in his cell in January 2002.

He had been a Level 3 "at risk" prisoner who should have been observed by prison guards every 30 minutes.

Sheriff Colin McKay's FAI determination said that if the two prison officers on duty at the time, Kevin Beck and Gordon Kelso, had carried out the "observations" the death "might" have been prevented.

The sheriff said the failure of Premier Prisons to have any effective system for making sure that employees complied with requirements on observation of prisoners contributed to Mr Barclay's death.

His determination said: "In my view, the evidence shows that there is a very detailed system for the management of the prison in the form of the Director's rules.

Kilmarnock Prison
Kilmarnock is Scotland's only private prison

"What happened was that they were routinely ignored and there were no systems in place to alert senior management to these failures.

"Furthermore, it is clear that even when the failures were patent management ignored them."

The criticism comes two weeks after a BBC documentary showed officers at the prison turning a blind eye to the use of drugs and alcohol. An undercover reporter for Real Story also found some prisoners on suicide watch were not checked regularly.

Mr Neil, the Scottish National Party MSP for Central Scotland, called for urgent action to be taken against those responsible for the negligence which led to Mr Barclay's death.

Premier Prisons said that there had been changes in senior personnel at Kilmarnock Prison in the three years since Mr Barclay's death.

Officers were dismissed

It said that control systems have been greatly strengthened.

The company added that a review of procedures had been launched in the light of the recent BBC programme.

It said that the conclusions of the fatal accident inquiry would be closely considered as part of that review.

Premier said that both officers on duty at the time were sacked by the company after Mr Barclay took his own life.

And it said that there had not been a self-inflicted death in custody at the prison since April 2003.


SEE ALSO:
Prison chief hits out at critics
10 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Action pledge over prison claims
09 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Prison Undercover
04 Mar 05 |  Real Story


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