Milton Keynes coroner 'concerned' with lack of mental health support given to prison guard who took her own life

Coroner has written to Prisons Minister calling for a review

Friday, 28th May 2021, 3:41 pm
Updated Friday, 28th May 2021, 3:42 pm

A Milton Keynes coroner has called for a review of mental health support for prison officers after an inquest into the death of an officer who took her own life.

Tom Osborne, senior coroner for Milton Keynes, has written of his concerns regarding the death of 24-year-old prison officer, Kelly Hewitt

An inquest last month confirmed that Kelly took her own life on December 18, 2018, at her home in Bedford.

HMP Bedford

Now the coroner is sending a "prevention of future deaths report" to the Prisons Minister addressing concerns on how her mental health struggles were dealt with.

Kelly worked at HMP Bedford when she took her own life and the coroner's report details that both her colleagues and manager were aware of her struggles.

Mr Osbourne said: "She had been suffering from depression. It was recognised by work colleagues and managers within the prison that she was suffering with her mental health.

"Concerns were expressed throughout the inquest as to the lack of mental health support available to prison officers. I believe that the provision of mental health support for prison staff should be reviewed."

Mr Osbourne concluded in the report that will be sent to the minister of state for prisons.

"In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you (and/or your organisation) have the power to take such action," he said.

Kelly's father, John, was very critical of the prison's support of his daughter. In January he told the BBC: ""The people at the time [who ran the prison] didn't understand what she was going through and didn't want to understand."

A spokesperson for the prison told the BBC: "Our thoughts remain with Kelly Hewitt's family. We have strengthened our mental health support further to ensure staff get the help they need."