Leeds Local Safeguarding Children Board has published part of its serious case review into the death of 17 year-old Ryan Clark in Wetherby young offender institution. Ryan was on remand, which means he had not been convicted of the offence that led him to prison. He hanged himself after just 20 days.
Serious case reviews must be undertaken when a child dies in custody. The statutory reason for these reviews is to identify the lessons to be learned.
In care from the age of 16 months, and still the responsibility of Leeds city council at the time he was remanded, Ryan had not had a “stable placement” since the age of 13.
The serious case review points to many failings by many agencies, including a notable lack of curiosity about why Ryan’s behaviour was so difficult. The author observes, Ryan’s “overall behaviour conveyed a sense that he did not value himself”.
There is no exploration in the report of the legal and ethical justifications for sending such a vulnerable child to prison.