HMP Highpoint: Suicide prisoner dismissed as 'manipulative'

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HMP Highpoint
Image caption,
A suicidal prisoner who died at HMP Highpoint in Stradishall was deemed "attention seeking" by medical staff

A suicidal prisoner who was dismissed as "attention seeking" by medical staff killed himself hours after self-harming, the prison ombudsman found.

Alexander Habib-Shaheed, 32, attempted suicide three times while at HMP Highpoint in Suffolk, including two days before his death on 26 May 2017.

Days before he died a nurse said his behaviour was "manipulative and attention seeking".

Changes to mental health training have now been made, said the prison.

The prison and probation ombudsman (PPO) criticised prison staff for lowering Mr Habib-Shaeed's risk of suicide status, despite reports of him self-harming on the day he died.

He was found hanging in his cell 10 hours after the self-harm was first noticed by an officer.

Despite multiple assessments he was never diagnosed with any mental health conditions.

In the months before his death he was accused of bullying other prisoners, refused to leave his cell and repeatedly went on hunger strike, said the PPO.

He claimed he felt increasingly anxious and suicidal and had told staff he felt threatened by other prisoners.

His behaviour was viewed as "manipulative and attention seeking" by some staff without consideration of the reason for the behaviour, the ombudsman said.

The ombudsman said proper consideration was not given to the inmate's safety concerns and the prison "over-relied" on his requests to be moved from the general prison population to manage his concerns.

The report stated: "We are concerned that, notwithstanding Mr Habib-Shaheed's escalating pattern of suicide attempt and self-harm, staff continued to assess his risk as low and that the frequency of observations did not reflect Mr Habib-Shaheed's actual level of risk on that day."

A spokesman for the prison service said: "Since his death, Highpoint has increased checks on vulnerable prisoners, improved mental health training for staff and is introducing one-to-one support through the key worker scheme."

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