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Fifteen year old found hanged in young offenders institution

Date:30 NOV 2007

On Thursday Liam McManus, aged 15, died after being found hanged in his cell at the Lancaster Farms Young Offenders Institution in Lancashire. The Prison and Probation Ombudsman has opened an investigation into his death.

Staff and paramedics attempted resuscitation of the teenager, who was found hanging in his cell at 7.10am, but he failed to recover and he was pronounced dead at 7.45am.

He had been in custody since 8 November after being jailed for one month and 14 days for breach of a supervision order.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: "Every death in prison is a terrible tragedy affecting families, staff and other prisoners. Our deepest sympathies are with Liam's family and friends."

Kathy Evans, the Policy Director for the Children's Society, has called on the Government to take immediate action to prevent this from reoccurring. In a statement issued yesterday she said: "Today's tragic news is further evidence that locking children up is dangerous and that the youth justice system is unable to keep them safe. Thirty children have now died in custody since 1990 and thousands more children who have been assessed as vulnerable are locked up every year. The system is simply unfit for purpose and has been in desperate need of reform for many years.

There is a real opportunity to take action now to prevent this happening again. The Government should use the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill currently before Parliament to ensure that children are only ever imprisoned as a last resort, in establishments that can give them the care, support and protection that they urgently need.

The new joint responsibility for youth justice shared between the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Ministry of Justice offers hope that the welfare of the child will be given greater priority in a system that until now has favoured punishment over protection.