Matthew Price: Prevention of future deaths report

Suicide (from 2015)

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Date of report: 22/02/2024

Ref: 2024-0102

Deceased name: Matthew Price

Coroner name: John Hobson

Coroner Area: West Yorkshire (Eastern)

Category: Suicide (from 2015)

This report is being sent to: Minister of Justice

1. The Rt Hon Alex Chalk KC MP, Minister of Justice.
I am John Hobson, Assistant Coroner, for the Coroner area of West Yorkshire (Eastern) District.
I make this report under paragraph 7, Schedule 5, of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and regulations 28 and 29 of the Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013.
On 30th June 2023 I commenced an investigation into the death of Matthew Gregory Price. An inquest was concluded on 30 January 2024. The conclusion of the Inquest was that Mr Price died of multiple injuries, with a short-form conclusion of suicide being recorded.
Matthew Gregory Price was aged 48. He was convicted of a s.18 assault by wounding in 2010 when he was aged 35 and has been subject to an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (‘IPP’). He served a term of imprisonment before being released back into the community.  

Whilst IPP sentences were abolished in 2012, Mr Price remained subject to his sentence which was imposed in 2010.  

At the time of his death, Mr Price had engaged legal support in order to make an application for review of his sentence which was at an early stage. Since 2022, a review is initiated at the ten-year mark and yearly thereafter, if appropriate. Mr Price’s first ten- year review was due to take place in November 2023.  

At the conclusion of the inquest, I recorded the following facts.  
‘On the evening of 16 June 2023 Matthew Gregory Price was struck by a train travelling from Leeds to Manchester at Cottingley Railway Station, Cottingley Drive, Cottingley [REDACTED]. He suffered multiple injuries and his death was confirmed by paramedics at 2149 hours. Matthew’s mental well-being had been adversely affected over a significant period of time by the continuing impact of serving an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP). He was especially anxious that seeking help in respect of his mental health could impact negatively when making an application to discharge the sentence further to its imposition in 2010. It is apparent from a text message sent just prior to his death that Matthew intended to take his own life’
During the course of the Inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern. In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken. In the circumstances it is my statutory duty to report to you.  

The MATTERS OF CONCERN are as follows. It was apparent from the evidence that I heard and read at the inquest that there are serious concerns about the welfare of individuals who remain subject to IPP sentences.   For example, the Independent Monitoring Boards (‘IMB’) completed a report with key findings entitled ‘The impact of IPP sentences on prisoners’ wellbeing’ in May 2023. This report was written following the rejection by the government of the recent Justice Select Committee’s recommendation for a re-sentencing exercise to take place for anyone serving an IPP sentence.
Whilst the key findings of the IMB report are focused upon the impact upon serving prisoners and the prevention of recall, I was deeply concerned about the evidence I heard in relation to the clear impact that the on-going IPP sentence had had on Mr Price. He had served a three year tariff and at the time of his death he had been released back into the community for nearly ten years
Mr Price was anxious about the ever-present potential for recall to prison. Furthermore, he had conveyed in communications to others that he felt that seeking help with his mental health by way of support and medication might count against him when seeking to be successful in discharging the IPP. Whilst Mr Price was engaged with legal support in navigating the review process, the on-going impact of uncertainty of being on an IPP sentence was clearly apparent.
As a consequence of undertaking Mr Price’s inquest, the on-going wellbeing of those serving IPP sentences, be that in prison estate or in the community, is a matter of concern to me as a Coroner.
The Ministry of Justice is fully apprised of the IPP context and whilst matters have been raised by the IMB I am concerned that specific focus upon the welfare of individuals living in the community should be appraised by those who may be able to take appropriate steps to further support an evidently vulnerable section of society.
In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe that as Minister of Justice you have the power to take such action.
You are under a duty to respond to this report within 56 days of the date of this report, namely by 18th April 2024. I, the Coroner, may extend the period.
Your response must contain details of action taken or proposed to be taken, setting out the timetable for action. Otherwise you must explain why no action is proposed.
I have sent a copy of my report to the Chief Coroner and to Mr Price’s family. I have also sent a copy to Mr Price’s solicitor who provided evidence to the inquest.
I am also under a duty to send the Chief Coroner a copy of your response.
The Chief Coroner may publish either or both in a complete or redacted or summary form. He may send a copy of this report to any person who he believes may find it useful or of interest.
You may make representations to me, the coroner, at the time of your response, about the release or the publication of your response by the Chief Coroner.
922 February 2024