Support our Nation today - please donate here

Inmate at Welsh prison ‘made suicide bid after being deprived of medication’

16 Jun 2024 6 minute read
HMP Parc at Bridgend. Photo via Google

Martin Shipton

A former inmate at a privately run prison where an Ombudsman is investigating 13 deaths has claimed he made a suicide bid in the jail after being deprived of drugs that had been prescribed to him.

David – not his real name – told NationCymru that he’d served sentences in many prisons, but the conditions in HMP Parc at Bridgend were the worst he’d ever experienced.

Between February 27 and March 19 this year, six Parc residents died. South Wales Police has said that tests on four of the men identified the presence of nitazenes – synthetic opioids up to 500 times more potent than heroin, which are increasingly being found in the UK.

Adrian Usher, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, confirmed in May that his office was investigating a total of 13 deaths at the prison.

Prescription drugs

We were put in touch with David by a support worker who has been helping him since he was released from Parc in April. He told us: “I’ve been in quite a few prisons over the years, but the two years I spent in Parc were the worst I’ve ever experienced.

“The prison authorities took my medication off me and I was told that I couldn’t have it because there was a market for prescription drugs in the prison and that prisoners sold them to other inmates. One of the drugs prescribed to me was Pregabalin. I had it to treat my feelings of severe anxiety. Without it I couldn’t cope and tried to commit suicide by jumping off the third floor balcony. It was about 30ft and I shattered the heels on both of my feet. I’ll suffer from that for the rest of my life.

“I was taken to hospital and told the doctors and nurses that my medication had been taken off me by the prison. They were shocked and put me back on it. But when I went back to the prison after four weeks in the hospital it was taken off me again.

“I went back into Parc on crutches because of the injuries I got from jumping off the balcony . They put me on the highest landing, which meant I couldn’t get down for food or to fill in application forms and so on. This had a massive impact on my mental health.

“Generally speaking I don’t think the prison is interested in looking after people. Being sent to prison is a punishment in itself, but you shouldn’t be punished when you’re there. I’d say that 99% of the prison officers were in it for financial gain, not to help prisoners. They’ll get you anything you like if you pay them, including drugs. And while I was there my cell mate was having an affair with a female warder.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there have been a high number of deaths in Parc Prison. It’s a horrible place to be. There are a lot of prisoners with mental health problems, but the opportunities to take part in therapy sessions are few and far between. People turn to drugs and harm themselves. There was a kid in the cell next to mine who cut himself to the bone.

“The conditions are much better in HMP Cardiff. I put it down to G4S being a private company that wants to make a profit.”

Standard procedure

A support worker who has been helping David since his release said: “He told me he had his medication taken off him in prison.. Obviously I have no proof of that. What I do know, however, is that when he was released he had no medication and his GP did not receive notification from Parc Prison about what prescription drugs he was on. That should have been done and is standard procedure.

“I’m also aware that the prison can be very obstructive when professionals want to visit a prisoner to offer support of some kind. There have been instances where professionals have been refused admission when they’ve been making arranged visits. Sometimes they have been told the prisoner doesn’t want to see them, when that hasn’t been the case at all.”


An HMP Parc spokesperson said: “The entire team at HMP Parc is devastated by the recent deaths at the prison and our thoughts remain with the men’s loved ones.

“Frontline prison officers across the UK provide an essential public service often in very challenging environments. The care of prisoners by our dedicated custody officers remains our primary focus and commitment.”

The spokesperson made a number of further points:

* As with all deaths in prison, these deaths are being investigated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and it’s for the coroner to determine the causes in each case.

* Allegations of any wrongdoing by a member of staff are thoroughly investigated and reported to the police where appropriate.

* Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board has provided primary and secondary healthcare services at HMP Parc since December 2022.

* Mental health support is based on an assessment by the health board and operates in the same way as it would in the community. They provide a range of interventions for prisoners with less severe mental health issues.

* In line with national policy, prisoners at risk of self harm or suicide are managed by a multi-disciplinary team and have a tailored support plan.

* On the prisoners’ medical records, this would be a question for the health board.

* Decisions on medication being given or stopped are made entirely by the healthcare provider.

* HMP Parc cannot and would not stop the prescribing of any medication a clinician had determined the patient needed.

* Any formal therapy session would be provided through primary or secondary care services if assessed as appropriate under the Mental Health pathway.

* The prison supports all visits from organisations providing a service to prisoners ranging from legal to health related services. We facilitate visits in line with HMPPS (His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service) policy.

A spokesperson for Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases, however if the individual or his family continues to have concerns, we encourage them to get in touch with our concerns team directly.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.