Image
© Western Mail
Parc Prison, Bridgend
A private prison has been accused of letting down a vulnerable young remand prisoner who hanged himself in his cell.

Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood said Emmanuel Buyoya could still be alive if there had been a specialist remand unit in Wales for people like him accused of crimes. Instead he was sent to Parc Prison, Bridgend.

Mr Buyoya, 20, originally from Burundi in central Africa, had been accused of indecently assaulting his 22-year-old female flatmate in Cardiff.

A six-week inquest into Mr Buyoya's death concluded with the jury issuing a statement that said: "We have unanimously agreed that Mr Emmanuel Buyoya on June 29 2006, took his own life whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed."

"Emmanuel Buyoya was received on remand at Parc Prison on December 23, 2005 for alleged offences. During his time at Parc he was moved to the segregation unit on two occasions, the second occasion lasting from March 23, 2006 until his death on June 29, 2006.

"We feel this was a considerable length of time for a young and vulnerable person to be in segregation, but unfortunately this was the only option available to Emmanuel at that time. We also feel that his mental health deteriorated to such an extent it contributed to him taking his own life.

"We also feel that the documentation and communication of Emmanuel's everyday behaviour, such as his violent outbursts and sometimes bizarre behaviour, should have been more closely monitored and recorded more accurately, and this was a missed opportunity for a better and more relevant care plan to have been put into place for the wellbeing of Emmanuel."

The coroner, Peter Maddox, recommended that Prime Care, the private medical company responsible for health care in Parc Prison, should put together a multidisciplinary team to improve the assessment of vulnerable prisoners.

He also recommended that the Ministry of Justice should heed concerns about the lack of a specialist unit in Wales for vulnerable adults accused of crimes and remanded in custody.

Ms Wood said: "This is a really disturbing and desperately sad case which shows that Parc Prison failed Emmanuel Buyoya. It has left us wondering whether the system can take appropriate care of other vulnerable young people.

"The coroner has recommended that the Ministry of Justice should look at the issue of a lack of a specialist unit in Wales for vulnerable adults accused of crimes and remanded in custody, and this is something I wholeheartedly support. It is possible that Mr Buyoya would have been alive today if he had received the necessary care and support."

Ms Wood, a former probation officer, said she would raise the issue with the Ministry of Justice.

"The coroner also recommended that the private medical company responsible for health care at Parc Prison should improve the assessment of vulnerable prisoners and I will be contacting the prison authorities there to ask them what action they are taking following this tragic case," she said.

Last year figures from the Howard League for Penal Reform revealed that there had been 27 deaths in Parc over the last decade, including 11 suicides. In 2008 Ms Wood published a policy development paper which called for powers over the police, prisons, probation, the courts and sentencing to be devolved to Wales.

A spokeswoman for G4S, the firm contracted to run Parc Prison, said: "We are committed to providing the best possible care to those entrusted to us and in the time since Mr Buyoya's death we have rigorously reviewed our systems and procedures to ensure that we do so.

"It is now nearly four years since this incident occurred and there have been significant gains made in the provision of both safer custody and healthcare here at HMP Parc."

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "The National Offender Management Service will consider the inquest findings to see what lessons can be learned in addition to those already learned as a result of the investigation conducted by the Prisons & Probation Ombudsman."