Jail criticised over Shakespeare book crook Raymond Scott’s suicide

Raymond Scott
Raymond Scott

PRISON bosses have been criticised for not doing enough to protect Shakespeare book crook Raymond Scott.

Scott, from Wingate, was jailed for eight years in 2010 or handling stolen goods – a rare edition of Shakespeare’s First Folio from Durham University Library.

In March 2012, he committed suicide in what is now HMP Northumberland.

Now a report by the Prisons and Probation Service Ombudsman has found what it calls deficiencies in his care.

The report reveals how 55-year-old Scott initially settled in to prison life, but his mood began to change in early 2012.

He became preoccupied with how long he had left to serve and during much of February he was put on suicide and self harm watch.

He made several phone calls to the Samaritans and had spoken at length to them – so much so they got in touch with the prison and an officer arranged a personal visit for Scott with the charity.

In March he told he told a fellow inmate how he intended to take his own life that night. The report said the prisoner told staff about it although there was no record.

The next day Scott was found dead after he had cut his own neck.

In his report Nigel Newcomen, the Prisons and Probation ombudsman made a series of recommendations to improve mental health care at the jail.

He also voiced concern that a decision was made, by one member of staff alone, to stop monitoring Scott without clear evidence that he was no longer at risk.

The report says: “There was no follow-up of this decision as there should have been.

“There were also weaknesses in the treatment provided for his depression, including an inconsistent approach by a number of different doctors about the prescription of anti-depressant medication.”

The report concludes: “It seems that the man was a prisoner whose mood and overall outlook on life deteriorated over a relatively short period of time. He became fixated with his sentence and appeal and the remainder of his time in custody seemed insurmountable.

“Although he received some support, we are critical of what did not seem to be a very integrated or consistent approach to the management of his risk.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: “We are committed to reducing the numbers of self-inflicted deaths in custody and will consider the findings of the inquest and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s investigation to see what lessons can be learned.

“We have a high proportion of people with mental health issues in the prison population and, as is the case in society, the reasons behind any suicide are complex and individual.”