A murder investigation has been launched after a prisoner was stabbed to death in a Category-C jail that was ordered to improve by inspectors less than two years ago.
Stephen O’Donnell, 33, was fatally attacked on E wing of HMP Risley, near Warrington, in Cheshire, on Tuesday evening.
Cheshire Police said O’Donnell was taken to a nearby hospital but was later pronounced dead.
A 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is in custody.
The jail, which provides training to inmates as part of rehabilitation, was criticised after an unannounced inspection in 2016 when it was noted there had been six deaths since the previous inspection in 2013 – two of which were suicides.
A fifth of inmates reported feeling unsafe, which was ‘worse than comparable prisons’, and the jail was ordered to improve with an action plan in 2017.
Cheshire Police said: ‘At 7.41pm on Tuesday, January 22 police were called to reports of an assault at HMP Risley in Warrington.
‘A 33-year-old man was taken to Warrington General Hospital where he sadly died.
‘Formal identification has not yet taken place but his family have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.’
A HM Prison Service spokesperson added: ‘HMP Risley prisoner Stephen O’Donnell was pronounced dead following an incident on Tuesday evening.
‘It would inappropriate to comment further while there is an ongoing police investigation.’
HMP Risley opened as a remand centre for men and women in 1964 and was switched to a male training prison in 1990.
Today it holds about 1,110 men, a portion of them vulnerable prisoners, mainly sex offenders, who are kept separate from other prisoners.
In the 2016 report, inspectors said the ‘daily routine’ of the jail was not being delivered and there was evidence to suggest drugs were ‘undermining prisoner well-being and nearly two-thirds of prisoners thought it was easy to obtain drugs in the prison’.
It noted work was being done to confront the problem.