An inmate who set himself alight while high on Spice had an “unnecessary delay” in treatment because he was an assault risk, a report has stated.
Kevin Hilton, 31, was doused with water through the cell door at HMP Whitemoor in March, Cambridgeshire. He died three weeks later in December 2017.
The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman questioned why staff waited 20 minutes to open his cell door.
The Ministry of Justice has been approached for comment.
‘Risk to life’
Hilton, who was serving an indeterminate sentence for robbery, had been segregated two days before the incident for punching an officer.
The fire was put out quickly but he was then left laying on his cell floor with 15% burns, with staff assessing it was too risky to enter without further back-up.
“While we appreciate… officers must have regard for their own safety when considering whether or not to enter a cell, we do not understand why staff concluded that it was not safe to enter Hilton’s cell given the number of staff available and the potential risk to life,” the report said.
“By failing to immediately enter Hilton’s cell, there was an unnecessary delay in treating Mr Hilton.”
It has recommended staff entered cells as quickly as possible in life-threatening situations.
Hilton told officers he obtained Spice at the prison chapel, with the report finding the route between his unit and the chapel was a known “drug trafficking” hotspot.
“It is particularly troubling that Mr Hilton was able to access and use PS (psychoactive substances) in the segregation unit, one of the most secure and closely overseen parts of the prison,” it added.
Whitemoor should ensure resources were focused on preventing drugs entering the unit, the report said.
Ombudsman Elizabeth Moody said she was satisfied with the standard of care Hilton received on his return to Whitemoor on 16 December, after a week in hospital.
A post-mortem examination found he died on 30 December of a blood clot caused by deep vein thrombosis.
An inquest last month had heard the delay in entering his cell would not have affected his recovery.