Southern Health ‘improving’ after inquest jury’s criticisms over schoolboy stabbing accused’s suicide

The scene in Southleigh Road, Havant, where the two schoolboys were stabbed. Picture: Uknip
The scene in Southleigh Road, Havant, where the two schoolboys were stabbed. Picture: Uknip
Crystal Collins, left, and Sharon Newell with some of the children by the pond 

Picture: Malcolm Wells (171116-8678)

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A HEALTH trust said it is improving assessments of people in custody after it was heavily criticised over a prisoner’s suicide.

An inquest into 43-year-old Mr Walsh’s death, who had been accused of the attempted murder of two schoolboys, found he committed suicide after ‘neglect constituted by the gross failure to provide basic medical care’.

The jury at Southwark Coroner’s Court found two psychiatrists from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services in the Havant area, failed to section him under the Mental Health Act when they assessed him at Waterlooville police station.

He was later remanded into custody at HMP Belmarsh by magistrates in June last year.

Mr Walsh died the weekend before he was due to appear at Portsmouth Crown Court in July.

Dr Lesley Stevens, medical director at Southern Health, said: ‘We were very sorry to hear that Mr Walsh had died and we would like to express our sincerest condolences to his family at what must be a very difficult time.

‘Mr Walsh’s mental health was assessed immediately after his arrest by a multi-agency team, which decided that hospital treatment was not required.

‘We fully accept the jury’s findings and are acting quickly to improve assessments and communication between health organisations and the criminal justice system.

‘With around 70 per cent of inmates suffering from mental health problems, it is also important to ensure that people’s mental health needs are understood and met whilst in prison.’

The two medics from Southern Health were joined by a Hampshire County Council mental health practitioner during the assessment.