Leeds & West Yorkshire

Trans prisoner Vikki Thompson 'let down by prison, NHS and family'

Robert Steele and Vikki Thompson Image copyright Robert Steele
Image caption Vikki Thompson (pictured above with partner Robert Steele) had identified as female since she was 10 years old but never had any surgical or hormone treatment

A transgender woman who died while on remand in a men's prison was let down by the NHS, Prison Service and her family, an inquest has ruled.

Vikki Thompson, 21, from Keighley, was found dead in her cell at HMP Leeds in 2015 with a ligature around her neck.

The jury at the two-week inquest in Wakefield concluded it was right she was held in a male jail and that she did not intend to take her own life.

But the foreman said "more attention should have been paid" to her.

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"Vikki has been let down by various departments including the NHS, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, the Prison Service and also by her family," he said.

"Although these departments were individually aware of Vikki's history, the overall coordination of her mental and health state were lacking in any form of organisational structure.

"During her last stay at HMP Leeds, the management of her treatment and mental state of mind were also lacking in professionalism and inadequate for an individual of such complex issues."

Image caption Miss Thompson was placed on a one-hour suicide watch when she arrived at HMP Leeds

Speaking outside court, Miss Thompson's family solicitor Philip Goldberg said: "Vikki's mother remains deeply distressed by the loss of her daughter, yet hopes that if any good is to come of her death it's that the Ministry of Justice also undertakes a complete overhaul of HMP Leeds.

"It was the responsibility of HMP Leeds to ensure she was properly looked after and safe."

The jury heard Miss Thompson, who was found dead in her cell on 13 November, had repeatedly told prison and court escort staff that she would be "carried out in a box".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Miss Thompson was found dead in her cell at HMP Leeds

Her partner Robert Steele had told the inquest she said to him in a phone she wanted to move to a women's prison and her solicitors were waiting for her to make a formal application to the governor.

But, in a statement read in court, Miss Thompson's mother Lisa Harrison said her daughter did not say she had a problem being in a men's prison.

Miss Thompson did not have a Gender Recognition Certificate establishing her female identity so she was sent to a male prison, the coroner said.

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