Jury finds ‘serious failings’ in the death of Sarah Higgins
provided by: INQUEST
published: 29 October 2013
The inquest into the death of Sarah Higgins at HMP Bronzefield concluded on 28 October 2013 with the jury finding that serious procedural failings and inadequate formal training contributed to Sarah’s death.
Sarah died on 8 May 2010 aged 30. At the time of her death, Sarah had three children aged 5, 6 and 11. Sarah was discovered unresponsive on the floor of her cell shortly before 4.30 am by a Prison Custody Officer. Emergency resuscitation was unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at 4.48 am. A Kinder Egg containing various drugs was found in her clothing.
Before arriving at HMP Bronzefield, Sarah had been in the custody of Sussex Police following her arrest on 5 May 2010. Whilst in police custody she was on constant watch due to police officers having witnessed what they suspected to be Sarah secreting drugs.
On 7 May 2010, Sarah was taken by SERCO escort officers to Brighton Magistrates Court where she was remanded into custody at HMP Bronzefield, a private prison run by Sodexo.
Sarah was accompanied by a Prisoner Escort Record (PER) that had recorded on it risk indicators, including the real concern that she may have secreted drugs, the fact that she had been on a constant watch at the police station and details about medications that had been given.
The jury at Sarah’s inquest heard damning evidence concerning the failures to communicate and act upon the risk information contained in the PER form, in particular the risk that she may have secreted drugs.