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27 Oct 2021


Poor mental health provisions at HMP Parc

Newport-based law firm Harding Evans represented the bereaved family at an inquest into the death of Christopher Desmond Slade, who committed suicide whilst detained at HMP Parc in Bridgend.

Slade, who had a history of mental health, self-harm and drug-related issues, had reported that he was ‘coping well’ in prison. However, in the summer of 2019, he was found to be under the influence of psychoactive substances and staff noted cuts to his left arm, which were thought to have been self-inflicted.

In the months prior to his death, a care planning process that specifically targets inmates thought to be at an increased risk of suicide and self-harm, also known as an ‘Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork’ (ACCT) was established, but quickly closed.

On 11th July 2019, a “code blue” was raised. Slade was found hanged in his cell and despite efforts by prison staff and paramedics, he was pronounced dead at 7:45pm.

Following a five-day inquest, the jury unanimously concluded death by suicide, stating that Slade acted ‘deliberately and alone’ in the actions that resulted in his death. The jury also concluded that the intention behind his actions were to bring about his untimely death.

Craig Court, Partner and head of the Actions Against Public Authorities team commented:

This was a complex inquiry that has shone a harsh spotlight on the mental health struggles faced by so many young men. Despite his own claims that he was ‘coping well’, reports of self-harm and the use of psychoactive substances are indicative of Christopher’s lengthy internal battle.

While the jury concluded that Christopher was deemed to have acted alone and with the intention to bring about his premature death, it is vital that lessons are learnt by all parties involved to ensure that other vulnerable individuals are not able to slip through the net of processes and procedures intended to keep them safe.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the team at Harding Evans, who have worked tirelessly in preparation for the inquest. Thanks must also go to Mr Nick Stanage of Doughty Street Chambers for representing the family.

I would also like to extend my thoughts to Christopher’s family, and in particular to Tammy, Christopher’s mother. This has been a hugely emotional ordeal, and the family have shown immense strength and resilience throughout.

Tammy Slade, Christopher’s mother stated:

Christopher was well-liked and fiercely loyal. His death will have an everlasting impact on those he left behind.

Following the five-day inquest, we are left mentally and emotionally exhausted and there are still a number of unanswered questions surrounding Christopher’s death. However, with a conclusion reached, I hope that, alongside my family, I am finally able to grieve the death of my son.

The Actions Against Public Authorities team at Harding Evans has been recognised as ‘one of the leading public sector claimant practices in Wales’, with head of department Craig Court listed as a ‘Rising Star’ in the recent Legal 500 rankings and ‘Associate to Watch’ in Chambers UK.

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