Essex

Dean Saunders death: Family to tackle prisoner suicides

Dean Saunders Image copyright Saunders Family
Image caption Dean Saunders' father said he welcomed the chance to change the prison system

The family of a man who killed himself in prison has been asked to help the Government prevent inmate suicides.

Dean Saunders, 25, died at HMP Chelmsford in Essex in January 2016 and an inquest jury found he was "let down" by mental health services.

Justice Secretary, Liz Truss, met his relatives at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire and said she had asked them to be involved in policy-making.

She also announced plans for 2,000 new prison officers and improved training.

Image caption Liz Truss described Dean Saunders' death as a "very, very tragic event"

Speaking during the visit, Ms Truss said: "Certainly it wasn't good enough what happened in the Dean Saunders case.

"We have looked at the case and learnt lessons for the Prison Service and the NHS - but there is more we need to do.

"Recruiting those extra officers will mean that we're able to have one officer for every six offenders and that will help keep those people safe, but also give them the encouragement to get into work, to get the training they need to turn their lives around."

Dean's father Mark said: "I welcome the chance to help change the prison system."

Image caption Dean Saunders, pictured with his son, was taken to Chelmsford Prison in December 2015

Mr Saunders, from Basildon, was a stay-at-home father, described by his friends as a "generous man" who loved his family.

He had been briefly held in a mental health secure unit in Rochford.

After he was released from hospital, he became "paranoid and confused" and attacked his brother and father in December 2015.

He was then charged with attempted murder and electrocuted himself at HMP Chelmsford, Essex, in January 2016.

An inquest jury concluded he killed himself "while the balance of his mind was disturbed, contributed to by neglect".

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