Men’s prison where trans woman was found dead criticised during inquest
The men’s prison where a trans female prisoner was found having killed herself has been criticised during an inquest.
Transgender prisoner Vikki Thompson was found dead in her cell at HMP Leeds back in 2015.
The court holding the inquest has heard that the prison was critically understaffed and in a poor state of repair.
The 21-year-old was found dead in her cell in the dark on 13 November 2015. LGBT advocates criticised the decision to send her to a men’s prison.
Speaking at the inquest, the officer who found her said he had been offered a night shift after working the day but found that he was the only staff member patrolling the wing.
He described that the cell, in the wing which houses the most vulnerable prisoners, had no lights, meaning healthcare professionals and guards were forced to use torches to try to revive her.
Jonathan Stanfield, the prison guard who found her, said that there should have been two people on the evening shift on that wing.
He said: “The instructions are that we are not to go into a cell on our own,” of how he reacted when he noticed that Thompson appeared unconscious.
But he said he went in anyway, and that his colleague, Paul Shortall, was the next to appear on the scene.
Stanfield said the guidelines were in place as prisoners had lured officers into their cells before using fake nooses and then attacked them.
He said the night Thompson died was |not an ideal evening”, after another prisoner had barricaded himself in some staff toilets.
Stanfield added that there had been smoke, and fire alarms going off “all night”, and that it was “just one thing or another”, and that he had been unable to regularly check on Thompson.
Both officers had not received first aid training for 20 years leading up to the incident, so they were forced to leave Thompson before healthcare staff arrived to attempt CPR.
In a previous hearing the court heard that Thompson had changed her name at age 17, but never applied for a gender recognition certificate.
Robert Steele, the boyfriend of Thompson, said he had received letters from the inmate saying she wanted to be housed in a women’s prison, and that she said she might “do something silly”.
One prison officer also cried in the inquest, saying that she had seen Thompson two days before her death.
“She seemed really settled on A wing,” the officer, Sinead Dennis, said.
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“She was happy. She asked me about the colour of my hair, which was green, and she talked about going to secondhand shops.”
21 year old Vikki Thompson was found dead inside Leeds prison last Friday.
She had been given a 12 month sentence for an as yet unknown conviction, but according to the BBC the sentence was later suspended.
However, Thompson was later made to serve her original 12 month sentence after breaking the terms of her suspended sentence.
Steele previously told the BBC “She didn’t like it in there because people were saying things to her because she was dressing as a female.”
The inquest continues.