A mother whose child was found dead after she gave birth alone in her cell in HM Prison Bronzefield, the largest women’s prison in Europe, should never have been remanded in the first place, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, said this week.
The independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) into the death of “Baby A” was published last week. It highlights a catalogue of failings, including calls from the baby’s mother, Ms A, which went unanswered during the night of the birth. The situation for pregnant women in Bronzefield is “symptomatic of a national absence of policies and pathways for pregnant women in custody”, it says, and the Prison Service “must take this opportunity to improve the outcomes for pregnant prisoners so that this tragic event is not repeated”.
Ms A gave birth on the night of 26 September 2019. The report notes that she had a “traumatic childhood”, and was known to local authority children’s services from birth: “Years of trauma meant she struggled to form relationships of trust with agencies attempting to engage with her.”
Before being remanded to Bronzefield, charged with robbery on 14 August 2019, she had refused all maternity care in the community, and was thought to be misusing alcohol and drugs. Once in prison, she refused to attend appointments for scans. Although she told a nurse that she would kill herself or someone else if her baby was taken from her, she was not put under suicide monitoring. On the night of the birth, she should have been checked by a nurse three times a day, and at least twice during the night, but this did not happen.
Spoke to the Bishop for Prisons, Rachel Treweek, about the awful case of Ms A and her baby. The Ombudsman’s report is so disturbing, particularly because many of the failings identified had been highlighted before https://t.co/NXy4hI3Uog
— Madeleine Davies (@MadsDavies) October 1, 2021