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HMP Chelmsford prisoner from Harlow withdrawn from drug treatment programme before his death

Crime / Sat 25th Nov 2023 at 07:16am

SUPPORT aimed at helping prisoners recovering from drug addiction is not properly embedded in practice a coroner has ruled following the drug-related death of a Chelmsford prisoner from Harlow.

John-Paul Pace, 41, had been withdrawn from a drug treatment programme against medical advice when he was found unresponsive at HMP Chelmsford in 2020 after having taken the psychoactive drug spice reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

The father-of-three, aged 41, had been serving a prison sentence for a drugs-related matter when he died, after he was recalled to prison in November 2019. The inquest into his death, which concluded on October 27, heard that Mr Pace had previously been on a drug detoxification programme in prison and had been taking methadone, but in the months before his death, had stopped.

A coroner has now said Castle Rock Group (CRG) – responsible for the delivery of drug-related services at HMP Chelmsford – needed to ensure a system of helping prisoners who suddenly stop taking methadone to recover from drug addiction was properly embedded in routine practice.

She said that although witnesses as part of the inquest into Mr Pace’s death provided evidence that this new process is now being followed no documentary evidence of this new drug detoxification discharge pathway seems to exist.

Dr Jeane Rosa, assistant coroner for Essex said in a prevention of future deaths report: “It is my concern that this new discharge pathway aimed at providing monitoring and support to prisoners who stop or complete the programme whilst in prison, has not been embedded in your organisations’ operating procedure and as such, there is a risk to prisoners in the future as compliance with the new discharge pathway and consistency of operations cannot be ensured.”

On 29 November 2019, Mr John-Paul Pace was recalled to prison after being arrested for a drug-related offence. After being sent to HMP Chelmsford he was put on a drug detoxification programme and was prescribed the opiate substitute methadone, which was progressively reduced over the following months.

He was under the care of the GP to manage his depression and of the Integrated Drug Treatment Services to manage his drug use.

On 28 May 2020, Mr Pace stopped taking methadone, before he had completed the methadone reduction programme.

He was prescribed medication to help with the expected withdrawal symptoms.

Shortly after 8am on 22 July, 2020, Mr Pace was found unresponsive. An ambulance attended the prison and Mr Pace was certified dead at 8.16am.

An investigation concluded at the end of the inquest on 25 October that his death was “Drug Related”.

A spokesperson for CRG Medical Services said: “We would like to extend our sincere condolences to Mr Pace’s family on the death of their loved one. We will ensure that the documentation requested is provided to the Coroner as soon as possible to assure that the pathways we have in place with our partners are as robust as possible and that patients are receiving the highest quality of care.”

A previous ombudsman’s report has the Chelmsford prison death was also linked to easy drug access.

The ombudsman Sue McAllister said: “I am concerned that Mr Pace was able to obtain illicit drugs at Chelmsford with apparent ease. The prison needs to continue its efforts to prevent the supply of and demand for illicit substances.”

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