Report by Pauline Campbell
Prison-death demonstration – Wednesday 9 May 2007
to protest against the death of Emma Kelly, aged 31
who died on 19 April 2007 while in the ‘care’ of HMP Send, Surrey
* A small group of protesters held a demonstration outside Send Prison, during the afternoon of Wednesday 9 May 2007, to protest against the tragic death of a young mother – Emma Kelly, 31 – who died in the ‘care’ of HMP Send on 19 April 2007.
* The three-hour demonstration, attended by protesters from London, Shropshire, and Cheshire, was the 23rd demonstration to be held outside women’s prisons in England since protests began in 2004 [there are no women’s prisons in Wales].
* Emma Kelly is the fourth woman to die from apparently self-inflicted injuries in women’s jails in the first four months of this year, a figure that already exceeds the number of women’s deaths for the whole of last year.
* Ms Kelly was on ‘suicide watch’ when she died in the care of Send Prison on 19 April 2007, which means that a warning form (F2052SH/ACCT) had been opened, indicating she was considered to be at risk of taking her own life/self-harm. Another young mother – Kerry Devereux, 32 – who died at HMP Foston Hall on 18 April 2007, was also on ‘suicide watch’, as was Sarah Campbell who died in 2003, raising serious questions about the level of care given to vulnerable women who have already been identified as being at risk of self-harm.
* Paul Beresford, Conservative MP, Mole Valley, was sent details of the demonstration, but did not respond to the invitation to attend the protest.
* Local reporters and photographers, including BBC Radio Southern Counties, attended the demonstration. BBC 104.6 FM, main news items (5 pm onwards) included a report on the protest, plus interview with Pauline Campbell.
* Police did not attend the demonstration and, therefore, no officers of the law witnessed the erratic driving of the one prison van to enter the jail during the afternoon. See: Reactions to the demonstration/prison van driver (below).
* Before leaving, protesters left bouquets of flowers outside the jail in memory of Emma Kelly.
(1) BBC Southern Counties Online News – “Protest after woman’s jail death” – published 9 May 2007 (including photo).
(2) Emma Kelly was imprisoned in 2006. BBC Online News report (published 17 August 2006) noted that her “descent into drug abuse was triggered by the death of her partner in 1996”, according to Ms Kelly’s defence lawyer.
REACTIONS TO THE DEMONSTRATION FROM PRISONERS AND PRISON STAFF
Two women prisoners, due for release soon, stopped to speak to Pauline Campbell as they returned to the jail after work experience. They took ‘demonstration leaflets’ into the prison, and agreed to pass on word about Baroness Corston’s report.
Duty Governor Mr Andy Peacock (Head of Reducing Reoffending) emerged from the prison at 1.50 pm to speak to protesters. Pauline Campbell handed a demonstration leaflet to the Governor, and asked if he was willing to make a comment about Ms Kelly’s death in relation to her right to life under Article 2. A newspaper reporter asked about the morale of prisoners following the death. Mr Peacock said he was unable to comment on Emma’s death but, in response to Pauline Campbell’s question, acknowledged that she was owed a legal duty of care. The Governor accepted “INQUEST” leaflets from Pauline Campbell, and was asked to ensure the details were passed to Emma Kelly’s next-of-kin.
Prison van driver – prison van MV55 EKU (with no external markings to indicate the name of a private operator) approached the jail entrance at 2.15 pm. Pauline Campbell stood in the middle of the roadway, holding a large placard, and clearly signalled that the vehicle should stop, with the intention of giving a demonstration leaflet to the driver. The response of the man driving the vehicle was to accelerate, rather than slow down, as he drove towards Pauline Campbell and, at close range, the vehicle (with prisoners on board) suddenly swerved to one side in the wide roadway, before straightening up as it approached the prison gates. Protesters were alarmed by the incident, which was also witnessed by a newspaper reporter. Later, as the vehicle left the prison, the driver stopped, took a leaflet, and said he had no intention of stopping the prison van when signalled to do so earlier. The driver’s name is known to the protesters, and a letter of complaint will be sent to the Governor. This was a peaceful protest, marred only by the prison van driver’s erratic driving.
Governor Peacock was back inside the jail when the incident occurred. He reappeared as the van was waiting to go through the gates, enabling Pauline Campbell to have a further exchange of conversation with him.