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Death of Another Woman Prisoner

Campbell | 24.01.2007 18:49 | Repression | Cambridge

Lucy Wood, aged 28, died on 15 January 2007
while in the 'care' of a private prison: HMP Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

A demonstration will take place on Wednesday 31 January 2007 at 1.00 pm, for the duration of the afternoon, outside HMP Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

Banners will be displayed, and flowers laid in memory of Lucy Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend
Lucy Wood's death is the second apparently self-inflicted death in women's prisons this year. The first death, only 10 days previously, occurred at HMP and YOI Eastwood Park, Gloucestershire, when a remand prisoner [and mother of five children] lost her life.
The demonstration will be led by Pauline Campbell, mother of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, 18, who died in the 'care' of HMP and YOI Styal, Cheshire, in 2003.
HMP Peterborough opened in 2005, and is a private jail accommodating both women and men.
The prison is run by a private limited company: Kalyx Ltd [formerly UKDS, United Kingdom Detention Services].
Prison address: HMP Peterborough, Saville Road, Westwood, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE3 7PD.


(1) The demonstration at Peterborough Prison on 31 January 2007 will be the 21st demonstration since protests began in 2004. To date, Pauline Campbell has been arrested 13 times.

(2) The protest on 31 January 2007 will be the first time a demonstration has been held outside a private prison.

(3) In July 2006, Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough [Conservative], expressed his concern at the news that Peterborough's prison was rated in the bottom 13% of all prisons nationally. The prison was said to be "experiencing significant problems in meeting targets and/or experiencing major operational problems".

(4) An invitation to attend the demonstration has been sent to Mr Stewart Jackson, MP, and it is hoped he will be able to attend the protest.

(5) INQUEST, press release, dated 17.01.07: "Two women die in prison within ten days", refers to Lucy Wood's death. Web:

(6) On 02.08.06, The Howard League for Penal Reform issued the following press release: "Government should close women's prisons" -

(7) The Guardian, 18.01.07: "Jails crisis forces prisoners to sleep in court cells"; paragraph 6: "It comes after two women prisoners killed themselves in the past 10 days" -,,1992948,00.html

(8) BBC Online News, 17.01.07: "Female inmate dies at mixed jail" -

(9) Lucy Wood's death will be subject to: (i) a police investigation; (ii) a separate 'independent' investigation by the Prisons Ombudsman; and (iii) an inquest before a coroner, sitting with a jury.


"I am saddened and angry that yet another woman prisoner has died in the 'care' of the State. Lucy Wood was owed a legal duty of care by Peterborough Prison, and her death is a tragic reminder that women continue to be sent to prisons that cannot meet their human needs. It is of particular concern that Ms Wood lost her life while locked up by a private company, and her death also raises very serious issues about the dubious ethics of making profit out of punishment.

"Ms Wood also had a right to life under Article 2, European Convention on Human Rights [Human Rights Act 1998]. When a death occurs in State custody, the burden is on the detaining authorities to provide a satisfactory and convincing explanation for the death. In the absence of such explanation, Article 2 is breached. *

"When my daughter Sarah died in 2003, I was made to wait two years before her inquest was held. It is not unusual for familes to have to wait even longer to find out how their loved ones died. This betrayal by State agencies in such inhumane circumstances is abhorrent, and leaves families torn apart with grief.

"Thirty-four women prisoners have died [self-inflicted deaths] since my daughter's death in January 2003. Many of the women were mothers, who have left behind motherless children.

"Nine out of 10 women prisoners are convicted of non-violent offences. They do not pose a threat to society, and should instead be given community sentences which cost less and are more effective. Two-thirds of women prisoners are mothers. Most women in prison are mentally ill, and need care and treatment, not incarceration. There is something inherently cruel about sending sick people to a place of punishment.

"When Labour came to power in 1997, 2,629 women were locked up. The current figure is 4,366 (19.01.07), yet there has been no equivalent increase in the number of women committing offences, or of women committing more serious crimes.

"How many more women will die before the Home Secretary takes action?"

* Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights, "Deaths in Custody", 3rd Report of Session 2004-05, Volume 1, page 13; ISBN 0 10 400573 4

Pauline Campbell
[Bereaved mother of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, 18, who died in the 'care' of HMP & YOI Styal, 2003]
Trustee of The Howard League for Penal Reform
Awarded The 2005 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize

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Display the following 3 comments

  1. Solidarity — ChrisM
  2. I was there — Lucy Charman
  3. They are other ways of dealing with the females — Tenna STAR