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UK inmate gave birth to stillborn in prison toilets, inquiry finds

An inmate gave birth to a stillborn baby in shocking circumstances in a prison toilet without specialist medical assistance or pain relief, an investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) has found.

A prison nurse who did not respond to three emergency calls from a prison officer to come to the woman’s aid when she developed agonising stomach cramps has been referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Louise Powell, 31, was unaware that she was pregnant. She gave birth on a prison toilet on 18 June 2020 at HMP & YOI Styal in Cheshire.

She previously said she believed her baby girl could have survived had she had more timely and appropriate medical intervention.

Her lawyer said they had obtained expert evidence that also suggested that the baby, who Powell named Brooke, may have survived had things been handled differently.

The report is the second by the PPO in six months to investigate the death of a baby in prison.

While Tuesday’s report found that there had not been failures before the day Powell gave birth, the ombudsman, Sue McAllister, found there were missed opportunities to establish that she needed urgent clinical attention in the hours beforehand.

“It’s not safe to have pregnant women in prison, we are just treated like a number,” Powell told the Guardian in a previous interview. “I can’t grieve for my baby yet because there are still things I don’t know, like why an ambulance wasn’t called. I want to get justice for Brooke and I decided to go public in the hope that things will change and pregnant women will stop being imprisoned.”

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Source: The Guardian, 11 January 2022


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