Prisoner’s family told about his death by other inmates using illicit phones

A prisoner’s family were told of his death in jail by other inmates using illicit mobile phones, a report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said.

Rocky Stenning, 26, was found hanging in his cell at Chelmsford Prison (pictured) on July 19 last year, nine days after he arrived.

A jury inquest, returning a narrative conclusion, found that a failure to assess his risk of self-harm and suicide contributed to his death in prison.

In a report published this week, the ombudsman said Mr Stenning’s family were told of his death “by fellow prisoners, who had contacted them using illicit mobile phones”.

It continued: “This was very distressing for his family and we consider that the prison needs to do more to prevent prisoners gaining access to mobile phones.”

The report recommended that the jail’s governor “should review the local security strategy and ensure that everything possible is being done to prevent mobile phones entering the prison”.

It further recommended that the prison should produce “clear guidance about procedures for identifying prisoners at risk of suicide and self-harm and for managing and supporting them”.

Mr Stenning’s family described him as a “loyal, funny, caring boy who loved his family and friends”.

Mr Stenning was the 12th prisoner to die at Chelmsford Prison since July 2015, the ombudsman’s report said.

There have been four further deaths since then.

A Prison Service spokesman said the jail has recruited an extra 60 officers in the last year, “giving staff more time to provide dedicated support to every prisoner”.

It has also provided “specialist training for staff to help them identify, monitor and support vulnerable offenders”.

“We will study the recommendations of the coroner and the Prisons Ombudsman to see what further steps can be taken to better support vulnerable prisoners.”

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