Ten separate investigations taking place into death of newborn at women’s prison

A total of 10 separate investigations are taking place into the death of a newborn baby at Britain’s largest women’s prison, a justice minister has said.

Lucy Frazer sought to offer assurances to MPs after concerns were raised in the Commons about the “deeply upsetting” incident at HMP Bronzefield.

She outlined the number of investigations ongoing, confirming the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been asked to conduct an “overarching” investigation.

A woman at the jail (pictured), managed by Sodexo Justice Services, gave birth to the baby on Friday September 27 but the child did not survive.

Speaking in the Commons, Labour MP Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) said: “In the tragic case of the baby which died in prison and the mother who laboured on her own in her cell, would the minister please in her review look at two things.

“Number one – were there enough prison officers on duty that night?

“And number two – will every single pregnant prisoner please be given a healthcare plan suitable to her needs in her pregnancy for every day of that pregnancy in which she’s in prison?”

In response, Ms Frazer said: “I’d like to assure her that there are a number of investigations taking place.

“There are 10 separate investigations taking place in relation to this incident at the moment, and I am very pleased to announce that the Secretary of State and I have formally asked the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman to conduct an overarching investigation into this incident.

“I spoke to the governor of the prison yesterday and she has introduced hourly checks throughout the night for all pregnant women and fortnightly pregnancy review boards are being held for all pregnant women involving a multidisciplinary team.

“That’s happening throughout the female prisoner estate.”

Ms Frazer earlier told MPs: “Can I start by saying how deeply upsetting it was to hear of the tragic (incident) at HMP Bronzefield recently.

“It was a terrible incident and my thoughts are with all those who’ve been affected.”

Her comments came following a question from Labour’s Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South) on the adequacy of funding for women’s centres to rehabilitate female offenders.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Steve Parsons / PA Wire.