The Penal Affairs Consortium has demanded that Home Secretary David Blunkett withdraw his comment that he was tempted to celebrate serial killer Harold Shipman's suicide.
The consortium, an umbrella body representing more than 50 voluntary organisations working with the prison and probation services, believes that Blunkett's comments send the wrong messages to prison staff attempting to prevent suicides in prisons. It also says that his words could undermine the integrity of the enquiry into Shipman's death.
Shipman committed suicide while serving a life sentence for murdering 13 patients. Blunkett said that after hearing of the death, he considered pouring himself a drink to celebrate.
"It is difficult to believe that the Home Secretary openly expressing his pleasure at the thought of a prisoner committing suicide is a helpful message to be sending to prison staff," said Una Padel, chair of the Penal Affairs Consortium.