HMP Durham guards told to ‘whistle’ in an emergency, after prisoner dies aged just 35

A jail guard had to shout for assist after discovering an inmate hanging in his cell – as a result of employees did not have sufficient radios.

Troubled Eugene O’Donnell was just days right into a 26 week sentence – for breaching a restraining order – at HMP Durham when he took his personal life on the age of just 35.

However a watchdog has discovered radios have been successfully being handed out to employees on a ‘first come, first served’ foundation when the 2018 tragedy occurred.

And those that did not have a radio have been as an alternative told to use “various” types of communication – together with whistling.

Staff raised issues to investigators over the shortage of radios. A supervisor on the Category B jail admitted there had been a shortfall of round 50 units, and that there could be a “important value implication” to prime inventory ranges up.

However the Prisons and Probation (*35*) report states that the shortage of units had brought about “confusion” in the chaotic moments after O’Donnell’s cellmate discovered him hanging from their bunk beds on February 16.

Staff rushed in after his cellmate raised the alarm, chopping him unfastened earlier than trying CPR.

But the (*35*) report states: “One of the officers who discovered Mr O’Donnell didn’t have a radio to name a medical emergency code.

“While one other officer responded shortly to her shouts for assist and used his radio to name the code ensuing in minimal delay, we’re involved that some officers at Durham will not be carrying radios to be used in emergency conditions.”

The report added: “We heard that those that arrive on later shifts have much less probability of getting a radio as they are going to have already got been taken by different members of employees.

“We are involved, each by what we have been told and by what occurred when Mr O’Donnell was discovered, that emergency responses could also be constrained by restricted numbers of radios and confusion amongst employees as to the actions they need to take when an emergency code wants to be transmitted.”

The Ministry of Justice stated the variety of handsets had since been elevated as a “precaution”.

However, it’s understood that due to interference attributable to the jail’s design, it nonetheless is not potential for each member of employees to have a radio whereas on shift.

And the Ombudsman additionally raised issues that O’Donnell’s threat of suicide had not been correctly assessed when he began his sentence on February 13.

He had a number of threat elements, together with a historical past of melancholy and the actual fact he was estranged from his household.

Despite telling employees that he wasn’t suicidal, O’Donnell did say a nurse throughout his preliminary screening that he wasn’t taking his antidepressants. She had “no rapid issues” concerning the prisoner, who was additionally withdrawing from alcohol.

Yet nationwide steering states that there is a “important threat” of suicide amongst these withdrawing from alcohol, one thing which can be “considerably lowered” if they’re assessed correctly at reception.

“Three members of healthcare employees noticed Mr O’Donnell inside 24 hours of his arrival at Durham and all have been made conscious of his historical past of tension and melancholy, but none of them requested him if he had any ideas of suicide or self hurt,” provides the report.

“While we take into account that it was acceptable for workers to concentrate on Mr O’Donnell’s substance misuse, we’re involved that his threat of suicide and self hurt was neglected.”

The watchdog has beforehand raised issues concerning the reception screening course of on the jail, the place 5 different inmates had took their very own lives in the three years prior to O’Donnell’s suicide.

And the Ombudsman had beforehand warned that the commonest theme amongst deaths in early days and weeks of custody was a failure to act on details about recognized threat elements.

It added since Mr O’Donnell’s demise, the 996-capacity jail has improved its First Night Initial Assessment kind.

However it made a string of suggestions, together with reviewing the supply of radios, and reminding employees to use them in an emergency.

A Prisons Service spokesperson stated:”Our condolences stay with the household of Mr O’Donnell.

“While a employees member in possession of a radio is at all times readily available to help a colleague with out, we’ve elevated the variety of handsets accessible as a precaution.

“We additionally subject common reminders on the procedures to guarantee speedy medical consideration when a prisoner is severely sick or injured.”



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