A baby has died after an inmate at Britain’s largest female prison allegedly gave birth alone in her cell.
Surrey Police have launched a probe into the “unexplained” death at HMP Bronzefield last Friday.
Vicky Robinson, director of the prison which is operated by Sodexo Justice Services, confirmed in a statement that a woman had given birth “but sadly the baby did not survive.”
Ms Robinson said: “We are supporting the mother through this distressing time and our thoughts are with her, her family and our staff involved.
“We are undertaking a full review and working with all relevant authorities during their investigations. It would not be appropriate to comment any further.”
The woman had been at an advanced stage of pregnancy and went into labour in her cell in the early hours, according to The Guardian.
The prison in Middlesex houses 572 inmates and notable prisoners have included Rose West , Karen Matthews and Joanna Dennehy.
There is a mother and baby unit, and women whose babies are born in prison, or who already have a baby when they enter prison, can keep the infants with them until they are 18 months old.
“The death is currently being treated as unexplained and an investigation is continuing to establish the full circumstances of what happened.”
South East Coast Ambulance Service also confirmed it had received a call from the prison at 8.30am and one ambulance attended.
Meanwhile, Dr Kate Paradine, CEO of the charity Women in Prison, has pleaded that “all mothers should have the right to give birth in dignity.”
She said: “But time and time again, we hear of situations where this isn’t happening, with mothers regularly being denied access to the vital health and maternity care necessary to give birth safely.
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“This has devastating consequences not only for the baby and mother, but also for the rest of the family they are separated from.
“Many mothers are imprisoned for being homeless, not having money to pay their bills and not having access to adequate mental health care and substance misuse support.
“Instead of sending these women to prison, the government needs to urgently prioritise investment in community support services like women’s centres, housing and health care.
“This is the only way to stop the unnecessary pain and suffering in our families and communities.”
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