THE ‘ready access’ of illicit drugs within a Warrington prison has been highlighted as a concern following a probe.

It comes following the death of inmate Daniel Haynes at Risley prison from synthetic cannabinoid toxicity on March 28, 2017. He was 28 years old.

A report has now been published following an independent investigation into his death by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, which ‘aims to make a significant contribution to safer, fairer custody and community supervision’.

An inquest in November 2023 concluded that his death was drug related. It was the first drug-related death at Risley since January 2015, but since Haynes’ death, there has been another death apparently involving illicit drugs.

The report states that on December 2, 2016, Haynes, from Radcliffe, was charged with robbery and remanded into custody at HMP Birmingham.

He had never been in prison before, despite a history of heroin and crack cocaine abuse, on which he said he would spend up to £100 a day.

He also told a nurse he was dyslexic, suffered from ADHD and was bipolar, but he was not prescribed any medication.

On January 4, 2017, Haynes was transferred to HMP Manchester, and then HMP Risley on February 10 after being convicted and sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to seven years and six months in jail.

Overall, nine off-licences were targeted by Haynes in the three-week robbery spree.

A nurse conducted an initial health screen and assessed that Haynes was suitable for normal prison location, any work and any type of cell occupancy.

On February 24, Haynes saw a substance misuse support worker and asked if it would be better for him to be prescribed methadone, a synthetic opiate used as substitute for heroin to treat addiction, however it was advised against this.

A fellow prisoner in the next cell told the investigator Haynes used spice up to three times a week, including on the day of his death.

On March 28, at 5.55pm, staff had noticed that Haynes had not been for his evening meal, and when an officer went to check on him, the inmate was found slumped in his cell, unresponsive and with blood coming from his mouth and nose.

The officer used his radio to summon urgent medical assistance and CPR was undertaken, as well as the use of a defibrillator.

Paramedics took over Haynes’ care after arriving at the prison at 6.19pm, however the prisoner was pronounced dead at 6.42pm.

In his cell, staff found a ‘bong’, used for smoking drugs and other substances, and what was described as herbal matter, believed to be a ‘new psychoactive substance’ (NPS).

A post-mortem examination, conducted by a Home Office forensic pathologist, confirmed that the cause of Haynes’ death was synthetic cannabinoid toxicology, with the substance having been used before his death.

A section of the report entitled ‘findings’ states: “We found no evidence or other intelligence to suggest that Haynes was being bullied at Risley, and no reason to consider that Mr Haynes’ death was anything other than accidental.

“There is a significant amount of evidence to suggest that Haynes’ illicit drug use on the day of his death was not a one-off, and that he was misusing drugs at Risley in the period before his death.

“Both HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Independent Monitoring Board have expressed concern about the ready availability of drugs at Risley at this time.

“Given his history of heavy drug use in the community, Haynes was clearly vulnerable to misusing drugs in this environment.

“Although he had detoxified from heroin and cocaine when he first entered prison, he asked about being prescribed methadone at Risley about a month before his death.

“His mother thought that his frequent requests for money suggested he was using drugs in prison, and another prisoner told us that Haynes used NPS regularly at Risley.

“We are concerned that, despite this, wing staff had no idea that Haynes was using drugs. We are also concerned that he was apparently able to access illicit drugs readily at Risley.”

The section also states: “We are concerned about the emergency response. Staff did not use the emergency code as required, and after Haynes had been found, there was a 10-minute delay in calling an ambulance.

“While a quicker response would not have affected the outcome for Mr Haynes, it could be crucial in other circumstances.”

A further section entitled ‘recommendations’ adds: “The governor of Risley should ensure there are effective supply and demand reduction strategies to help eradicate the availability of NPS, and that staff are vigilant to signs of their use and know how to respond when a prisoner appears to be under the influence of such substances.

“The governor of Risley should ensure that all prison staff are made aware of and understand medical emergency response codes and their responsibilities during medical emergencies, ensuring a medical emergency code is used and an ambulance is called immediately.”