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28 July 2023

PRT comment: conclusion of inquest into the death of Aisha Cleary

Reacting to the conclusion of the inquest into the death of Aisha Cleary today (28 July), Pia Sinha, chief executive of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“The death of Aisha Cleary is a devastatingly stark reminder of the risks that pregnant women and their babies face when sent to prison. Over the course of the last year there were nearly 200 pregnant women held in prison, and figures show that being pregnant and in prison is becoming more common. Last year 44 pregnant women were in prison on average—up from 29 women in 2021/22 and 26 the year before—making the need to learn lessons all the more urgent.

“It is also right that we question whether prison is a safe or appropriate place for pregnant women. The government has already said that it wants to reduce the number of women in prison, in recognition that they are often sent there for non-violent crime. But there is a yawning gap between the ambition and the reality.

“The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, and now this inquest have highlighted where failures need to be corrected, it is now incumbent on ministers and the prison service to see them through.”