As the title suggests I want to give my views on Colin Bells suicide.
First a bit of background,
Colin Bell was serving an a life sentence for murder in Maghaberry prison, however in August 2008 Mr Bell succeeded in taking his own life whilst on suicide watch by Mr Daniel Barclay.
In the days before he died, he tried 73 times to use a helpline in his cell to phone the Samaritans. The line was engaged 63 times. (the Samaritans are in desperate need of volunteers so please if you can spare an hour a week to answer the phone to a prisoner, you never know you may just save a life!)
After he took his life, his body lay in his cell for almost 40 minutes before it was discovered
Mr Barclay admitted he had not kept a proper watch on a suicidal prisoner who hanged himself.
The admission came as Daniel Barclay was due to go on trial in Craigavon, County Armagh, on a charge of misconduct in public office.
Eight night custody officers who were recommended for dismissal have since been
reinstated, Mr Barclay, was the only officer to face charges. He was given a suspended sentence as the judge took into account Mr Barclays genuine remourse and the stress Mr Barclay had gone through these past six years.
In a statement issued by the family of Colin Bell in 2009, they said they “intended to take civil action against the NIO and the governor of Maghaberry, and that his death could easily have been prevented”.
Prisons Minister Paul Goggins said he had set up a new ministerial forum on prisoner safety.
“There were significant failings at Maghaberry prison and the death of Colin Bell on 1 August last year should not have happened,” he said.
“He was a vulnerable and troubled prisoner with a long history of self-harm and while staff did much good work with him during his time in prison, the level of care provided to Colin in his final days was simply not acceptable.”
Now I’m not a legal expert however I’m not sure a suspended sentence carries enough weight considering the seriousness on the neglect shown by Mr Barclay, the fact is if a prisoner is on suicide watch they need to be monitored and Mr Barclay was too tired to do so as he had a full time day job in McDonalds! So therefore the sentence should have in my opinion been a custodial one.
This is a terrible thought, that the officers in charge of making sure vulnerable prisoners are safe need to supplement their income by flipping burgers and shovelling French fries, The prison service receives on average £40,000 per year for each and every prisoner (see my other post about the cost of prison) Surly this should trickle down to the officer in charge of keeping the prison population safe.
Now I’m not saying for one second that Mr Barclay is not to blame for this however surly if he was paid more he wouldn’t have needed that extra job and thus would have been able to carry out his duties within the prison to an acceptable standard!
I feel that this “buck” has stopped with Mr Barclay when in fact it should have gone much higher up the chain to the fat cats that are ripping off the British tax payer by charging a kings ransom to hold prisoners however paying a paupers salary to the men and women on the front line.
As always please feel free to comment and leave your opinion below, Share on Facebook, tweet to your followers or share on any other social network you would like to.
Take care and stay safe
x Claire x