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Jury finds inadequate care contributed to suicide at HMP Norwich

The jury at an inquest into the death of a prisoner at HMP Norwich today concluded that failings in the care provided by the prison contributed to his death.

36-year-old Joe Bartlett from Colchester in Essex tragically died on 5th April 2017 after being found in his cell with a ligature around his neck. The cause of death was hanging.

The jury noted in their conclusions that procedures to reduce the risks of self-harm and suicide were not adequately followed, there was insufficient information gathering, and there was a failure to recognise the seriousness of the bullying to which Joe was subjected and to respond accordingly.

Joe’s mother, Michelle Ford, and his sister, Cassie Bartlett, attended the inquest. Following conclusion, Michelle Ford said: “Joe was a much loved son, brother and father. We have had to hear very harrowing evidence relating to Joe’s final days. It has been almost impossible to understand the total disregard by the prison and healthcare staff in managing Joe and the high and very real risks posed to Joe.

“We sincerely hope that lessons have been learnt by the prison to prevent further tragic deaths. We believe abundant opportunities were missed and we hope no other family will have to endure the same tragedy.”

The family was represented at the inquest by Claire Brigham of London law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, who said: “Joe’s death followed a finding by HM Inspectorate of Prisons in its September 2016 inspection of HMP Norwich that the number of assaults was increasing. The Inspectorate criticised the prison’s investigations of these incidents. It is imperative that the proper procedures are now put in place to prevent further deaths.”

“The inquest into the death of Joe Bartlett at Norwich Coroner’s Court opened on 6th March and concluded on 14th March. Counsel was Taimour Lay of Garden Court Chambers and the family were assisted by the charity INQUEST.”


For further information, please contact:
Kerry Jack or Nicola Pearson at Black Letter Communications on 020 3567 1208 or at or

Notes for Editors

Hodge Jones and Allen

  • Hodge Jones and Allen is one of the UK’s most progressive law firms, renowned for doing things differently and fighting injustice. Its managing partner is Patrick Allen, recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by Solicitors Journal.
  • For 40 years’ the firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.
  • The firm’s team of specialists have been operating across: Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Industrial Disease, Civil Liberties, Criminal Defence, Court of Protection, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Family Law, Military Claims, Serious Fraud, Social Housing, Wills & Probate and Property Disputes.
  • In 2016, the firm launched Hearing their voices – a campaign to raise awareness and build conversations around the issues and the injustices we might all face.