Katie Allan, William Lindsay Obituary – A prison officer assigned to monitor a 21-year-old who took her own life while serving a sentence has told an inquiry she was unaware of reports of her being bullied. Heather Porter, 47, who acted as Katie Allan’s second personal officer during her time in custody at Polmont Young Offenders Institution in 2018, said she did not have access to a system where the incidents were recorded.
She was giving evidence on the third day of a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) at Falkirk Sheriff Court examining the circumstances of Ms Allan’s death at the prison in June 2018 and the death of William Brown, 16, also known as William Lindsay, there four months later. The court was shown documents logging that in April 2018, intelligence had been received that Ms. Allan and another inmate were being bullied by a third prisoner.
The document said the prisoner had taken tobacco and stamps from the pair. Asked if she was aware of this situation, Mrs Porter replied: “We can’t access that intelligence.” Advocate depute Leanne Cross then moved on to discuss a second receipt of intelligence recorded in June of that year that Ms Allan was being threatened about her losing her hair in prison through alopecia. Mrs Porter said she was aware of Ms Allan’s condition but she told the inquiry she believed several young women occupying the same hall were “supportive” towards her.
The court previously heard Ms Allan’s mother Linda estimate her daughter lost about 80% of her hair while she was being held at Polmont. Earlier on Wednesday, a mental health nurse who assessed Ms Allan on her arrival at Polmont finished giving his evidence. Alan MacFarlane told the inquiry he made no notes raising concerns about Ms Allan’s mental health when she was transferred from Cornton Vale prison. The court heard she was initially held at Cornton Vale after she was sentenced and it was recorded in her medical notes she had previously self-harmed and suffered from alopecia and eczema.
A few days later she was transferred to Polmont, where Mr. MacFarlane wrote in a risk assessment she “presented well” on arrival and he had “no concern” about her “based on her current presentation”. He also wrote she had “no mental health issues”, although he went on to record she reported feeling “anxious” about being held in custody for the first time. Asked why he did not raise any concern about her having previously self-harmed and having eczema and alopecia, Mr. MacFarlane said he assessed how Ms. Allan was “at the time of transfer”.
Despite telling the inquiry he could not recall assessing Ms. Allan, he insisted he would have discussed any previous “issues” she had reported, “as a matter of course”. Mrs Allan previously told the inquiry there was evidence her daughter had been cutting her arms while in prison. Ms Allan, a student of geology at Glasgow University, was found dead in her cell on June 4, 2018, while serving a 16-month sentence for drink-driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving. Mr. Brown, who had been in care repeatedly, was found dead in his cell on October 7 of the same year – three days after being remanded at Polmont because there was no space in a children’s secure unit. The inquiry, before Sheriff Simon Collins KC, continues.