HC Deb 03 December 1987 vol 123 cc686-7W
Mr. Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has completed consideration of Sir Montague Levine's report on the use of body belts on prisoners; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten

Sir Montague Levine, Assistant Deputy Coroner for the inner south district of Greater London, wrote to the prison department on 31 July 1987 following an inquest into the death of a former inmate of Wormwood Scrubs prison. In the course of the evidence it had been found that a body belt had been used to enable the inmate — who had been violent and had been unwilling to consent to the administration of a sedative — to be transferred from the hospital at Wormwood Scrubs to the hospital at Brixton prison. The inquest had heard that it was the usual practice of medical staff at Wormwood Scrubs not to sedate a patient in the absence of consent unless the need to do so had been confirmed by an independent consultant psychiatrist, but that difficulty had been experienced in the past in obtaining the services of a consultant at short notice.

In his letter Sir Montague Levine made no recommendation about the use of body belts, but he did report the jury's view that a rota system should be employed to ensure that help from a consultant psychiatrist could be obtained at all times. In the light of Sir Montague's letter the principal medical officer in charge of medical services at Wormwood Scrubs has been asked to seek the agreement of the appropriate psychiatric hospital to medical staff at the establishment having access to consultant psychiatrists on the hospital's duty rota for emergencies, including those occurring at weekends.

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