How many more inmates will die inside Woodhill jail?

Woodhill Prison
Woodhill Prison

A transgender inmate found dead in her prison cell has prompted calls for more help to support gender identity issues at Woodhill jail.

Joanne Latham was discovered hanged behind a barricaded door at the all-male prison on Friday morning.

She is the second transgender inmate in England to die in the past two weeks, in a year that has seen Woodhill’s suicide rate almost equal its highest record to date.

MK transgender advisor Delia Johnston, who led a training course at Woodhill two years ago, believes the law is letting down transitioning inmates – and officers are failing to use their common sense. She told the Citizen: “I am horrified by what has happened – especially so soon after another inmate died.

“Joanne must have felt total fear and desperate loneliness in there. Without anyone to turn to for help there was only one solution.

“How many more will die until someone in authority does something about this?”

In 2013, Woodhill recorded one of the highest numbers of self-inflicted deaths in England and Wales.

In total there were five at Woodhill in 2013, including one from natural causes.

So far this year there is believed to have been three self-inflicted deaths – not including Ms Latham.

A post-mortem has yet to be carried out, but an investigation into Ms Latham’s death has been launched by the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.

The 38-year-old was given three life sentences for attempted murder, the first in 2001 for slipping mercury from a thermometer into a roommate’s drink.

Six years later she was convicted for the attempted murder of a fellow prisoner in HMP Frankland.

Then in 2011, she was once again found guilty of the attempted murder of a patient at the Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottingham.

Ms Johnston added: “Her crimes are awful, but the question remains why was she put in an inappropriate prison.

“Officers have to stick to the law, but it’s too black and white. They need to use their common sense.

“The prison service needs to do more.”

Prison minister Andrew Selous announced the government is now re-examining its policy on transgender inmates.

It follows the death of transgender inmate Vikki Thompson, 21, last month.

She had revealed that she would kill herself if she was sent to a male prison.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Selous said: “Her death, like all others in custody, is a tragedy and we are totally committed to reducing the number of deaths in prisons.”

Yesterday a petition signed by almost 150,000 people prompted the relocation of 26-year-old Tara Hudson.

Having lived all her adult life as a woman, she will now serve her remaining sentence in female Eastwood Park jail.