Substantial settlement for prisoner attacked in Young Offenders Institution

In November 2010, Mr B was in an 'association room' at Feltham Young Offenders Institution when he was severely and gratuitously assaulted by around four inmates.

The room was monitored by a window that prison officers are expected to look through to see what the inmates are doing, and two CCTV cameras. The normal procedure was that if there are six or more inmates in one room, an officer should also be present to supervise them. Despite there being around 15 inmates in the room at the time, there were no prison officers in the room at the time of the attack.

Mr B recalls:

"I was crying out in pain, asking them to stop and shouting for help. I was so scared. There were no prison officers in the room and I was terrified as to what the men would do. The assault lasted for approximately 1 minute until two other inmates intervened and pulled the attackers off me."

No prison officers observed or intervened in the attack, despite the monitoring facilities and procedures in place. As a result of the assault, Mr B suffered from multiple fractures to his cheekbone and eye socket, as well as significant bruising to his body. Royal Surrey County Hospital assessed his injuries and told him that he would have to wait around six weeks for the swelling to subside before reconstructive surgery on his eye socket and an implant to his cheekbone could be carried out.

However, by the time he returned to the hospital his eye socket and cheek bone had healed incorrectly and it was too late for him to obtain reconstructive surgery. Mr B was left with permanent disfigurement to his cheekbone and eye socket, and a minor effect to his vision.

It was argued that the prison breached their duty to Mr B by failing to provide adequate supervision in the association room at the time. It was also argued that Royal Surrey County Hospital were negligent in failing to arrange timely follow-up treatment that would have enabled the proper reconstructive surgery to Mr B's cheekbone and eye socket.

Both the Ministry of Justice and Royal Surrey County Hospital offered Mr B significant sums in damages to compensate him for the pain and suffering and ongoing facial disfigurement.

Mr B's solicitor Polly Lane said the following:

"This case reinforces the duty of care that is owed to prisoners, particularly to young people who are often in vulnerable circumstances with little means of protecting themselves. I am delighted that Mr B has been adequately compensated for the negligence of both the prison and the hospital and can now move forward with his life".

Mr B was represented by Nia William and Polly Lane.


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