Serco fined £2.25m after custody officer killed in London court

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Serco has been fined much than £2m for wellness and information failures that led to a mentally sick captive kicking a custody serviceman to death.

Humphrey Burke, 29, attacked Lorraine Barwell, 54, arsenic she tried to escort him from his compartment successful Blackfriars crown tribunal successful London successful June 2015. Burke was owed to beryllium sentenced for arson and attempted robbery.

In January 2022 Burke admitted manslaughter by diminished work and was handed an indefinite infirmary bid astatine the Old Bailey.

Barwell’s employer, Serco – which is contracted by the Ministry of Justice to supply information services successful courts – pleaded blameworthy past April to nonaccomplishment to discharge wide health, information and payment work from January 2014 to March 2017.

The prosecution claimed that 2 attacks connected custody officers – Barwell and Bernadette Cawley – wrong that play demonstrated what could hap if the close wellness and information steps were not taken.

Cawley, who survived the attack, was strangled and rammed up against a partition successful the dock successful an annex tribunal astatine Woolwich crown tribunal successful June 2016. She pressed an alarm but nary different custody unit were adjacent to help.

The Ministry of Justice said that Barwell was believed to beryllium the archetypal situation custody serviceman to beryllium killed connected duty. She had worked for the information contractor for much than 10 years.

While Serco had admitted 2 constricted breaches successful narration to the 2 incidents astatine Blackfriars and Woolwich, they denied they were the origin of the harm to the women. The prosecution had alleged determination were wider failings, with areas including hazard assessment, staffing levels, grooming and monitoring.

On Friday, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker fined Serco £2,250,000 and ordered the steadfast to wage the Health and Safety Executive costs of £433,596.

When sentencing the firm, Baker said: “I americium satisfied that had it not been for Serco’s breach of work towards its employees, Lorraine Barwell would not person died successful the circumstances successful which she did.”

In a unfortunate interaction statement, Barwell’s girl Louise Grennan said: “Our mum was a fantastic loving supportive parent to myself, my member and her 2 granddaughters whom she adored and loved, and they adored her.

“She excessively was a person to galore and loved by many. To suffer her has near a immense void successful everyone’s hearts.

“Mum was my champion person and she helped maine attraction for my daughter. We spoke astir plans to determination overseas to unrecorded successful the prima erstwhile mum had retired from work. That has each gone now.”

The HSE inspector Helen Donnelly said: “Serco drastically failed successful their duties to support some Lorraine Barwell and different unit implicit a sustained period. It is not communal to person a lawsuit covering specified an extended period, but it appeared that Serco Limited were not learning from their mistakes.”

Anthony Kirby, main enforcement of Serco UK and Europe, said: “Everyone successful Serco was profoundly shocked and saddened erstwhile Lorraine was fatally assaulted by Humphrey Burke successful 2015 and we proceed to nonstop our deepest condolences to her household and friends.

“Lorraine was a brave and experienced captive custody serviceman who was a fashionable and highly respected subordinate of our squad and had worked for Serco for implicit 10 years. She is inactive sorely missed by her colleagues and everyone crossed Serco.

“The information and wellbeing of colleagues is our highest precedence and, arsenic recognised by the court, we person improved our information processes. We continuously strive to question to guarantee specified an incidental tin ne'er hap again.”

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