No Minister: Supermum Visits the House of Commons
So my Supermum headed down to London town last month, all by her lonesome - a 16 hour round trip from her house near the Lake District - for a 30 minute meeting with the Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright.
Top of the agenda was my bro's ludicrous incarceration after the London Riots of 2011 whereby he was sent to, one of the UK's worst prisons, HMP Wandsworth. His heinous crime was that he took a gingerbread man from a prelooted bakery. The events that followed inside Wandsworth and a calamity of errors by prison and ambulance staff helped to ensure he stood no chance of survival following his heart attack on the A Wing landing.
Mum was accompanied by Deborah Coles from Inquest - a charity providing free advice to bereaved people facing an inquest - and later she got herself featured in their October newsletter.
It reads a little something like this: "A productive meeting took place with Deborah, Dolly Daniel, foster mother of James Best who died in Wandsworth prison in August 2011, her MP Tony Cunningham and Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright in October.
"Dolly expressed powerfully the impact of the death of James had on the family and her motivation to seek change to try and ensure lessons were learned. Issues raised concerned the need for the Prison Service to be more accountable for how it acts on the learning needed to prevent similar deaths in the future, with more information being provided to families on actions taken.
"Delays in inquests into prison deaths and how this impacts on families and frustrates learning were also discussed. Additionally, we raised the crucial role of legal aid in scrutinising custodial deaths and our concerns about how the legal aid changes will impact both on bereaved people and prisoners concerned about their treatment and care. Finally, we emphasised the need for people with mental health problems to be diverted from prison.
"Following the meeting, Dolly commented: 'After a strong jury verdict in March at end of 5 day inquest for James we were heartened at the legal ruling of our coroner. However 6 months later there has been no apparent response from Wandsworth Prison, St Georges Healthcare Trust or London Ambulance service to the coroner's 56 day deadline.
'I’m grateful to my MP Tony Cunningham for proposing and securing meeting with Justice Minister Jeremy Wright. After months of persevering, we met at the House of Commons with Deborah Coles, co director of INQUEST. In our brief slot we were able to raise issues around placing mentally ill people in prison, withdrawal of legal aid for families and ensuring lessons are learnt and families advised of service improvements. Hope we did you proud James'.”
Well you sure did Ma! I'm exceptionally proud of her and all that we have achieved in James' name since his untimely death. RIP brother; gone but not forgotten.
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