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Care failures contributed to prison death of looked-after child

The charity Inquest has called for an independent review of the care of young prisoners after a jury found that failures in support contributed to the death of a looked-after 17-year-old at HMYOI Wetherby.

The jury at the inquest into the death of Ryan Clark, who was found hanging in his cell on 18 April 2011, concluded that his actions were more a ‘cry for help’ than an attempt to take his own life and ruled that his death was accidental.

The jury noted that Clark, who was subjected to repeated verbal abuse and physical threats by other inmates while the prison, did not receive all the support he could have and that Wetherby’s system for challenging the bullying he experienced was ineffective.

During the hearings the jury was told by Jane Held, the independent chair of Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, that the system failed Clark, who had been in care since he was 16 months old.

She said that during the final year of his life, Clark had no single consistent professional who was responsible for him and that his care plan was insufficient.

Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest, said: “The jury’s conclusion is a serious indictment of a system that fails time and again to protect children in its care. It is clear that basic safeguards that should have been implemented to protect Ryan, a vulnerable 17-year-old, were either absent, ineffectual or simply ignored.

For the full story and related articles, please see the Community Care website.

[Text copyright Community Care 2014]