A catalogue of failures among prison and health professionals has been highlighted in an investigation report into the death of a teenager’s baby after she gave birth alone in her cell at the largest women’s prison in Europe. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman published the devastating report into the events in September 2019 at HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Middlesex on Wednesday. The case was first revealed by the Guardian and the baby’s death triggered 11 separate inquiries.
The publication of the report has triggered multiple calls for an end to the imprisonment of pregnant women from the Royal College of Midwives, NGOs and academics in the field. The organisations Level Up, Women In Prison and Birth Companions have organised a petition. Latest Ministry of Justice figures show that in the year ending March 2021 31 women gave birth during a prison sentence. While 28 gave birth in hospital and none were born in cells, three were delivered en route to hospital. Two previous babies were delivered in cells at Bronzefield and in December 2017 a full-term baby was stillborn in an ambulance on the way to hospital.