A FATHER has called for a complete overhaul of Britain's overcrowded prison system that contributed to the death of his drug addicted son.

Michael Taylor was 39-years-old when he was found hanged in his cell in Bedford Prison, having strung himself up in a desperate cry for attention.

The long-term crack cocaine addict was sent there while on remand for a burglary charge and forced to spend four days in a cell suffering withdrawal symptoms because Bedford had no drug rehabilitation programme.

His father, Graham, told the Harrow Times he is still angry that systemic failings led to his son's death in 2007.

He said: “When Mike got to Bedford Prison, it didn't have the facilities to deal with his drug addiction, he was forced to go cold turkey for four days, and there were no nursing staff on at weekends.

“On the evidence, the jury at the inquest thought in an attempt to draw attention to his plight, he attempted suicide to try to get himself sent back to Wormwood Scrubs.

“Since his death, we have looked at the system quite intensely – the prison system is overcrowded, and all the political parties are too scared to do anything about it.”

At the time of his death, Michael was facing a low-level burglary charge, having allegedly broken into a Harrow office to keep warm on a cold winter night while sleeping rough.

He was being held on remand at Wormwood Scrubs, where he was on a drug rehabilitation programme taking regular doses of crack cocaine substitute methadone.

But after an appearance at Harrow Magistrates Court, he was moved to a police station overnight as part of the government's policy to deal with lack of prison spaces.

He was then taken to Bedford Prison, which was ill-equipped to deal with his condition, and eventually was found dead in his cell.

Mr Taylor said: “Mike really should have been in a mental hospital.

“We feel the system is wrong because very often the really dangerous criminals – the rapists and murderers – are not in prison. Seventy per cent of the prison population is mentally ill or addicted to drugs and the crimes they have committed are not all that serious.

"We are bitter at what happened. We will always have the hope that Mike was going into his second rehab and may have come out of drugs, and he was robbed of that because of the failing system.”

Michael moved to Harrow in 1998, but was already on a downward spiral of drug abuse and destructive behaviour.

His parents had been forced to throw him out after he broke all the windows in their home in Bermondsey with a hammer while in a drug-induced rage.

He moved to the borough, his father said, because he knew he could easily get hold of drugs, and for the next nine years lived with friends, on the streets, and in hostels.

Mr and Mrs Taylor are continuing to fight for justice for their son and for radical reform of the prison system in the UK.

Their son's case is one of four lead cases which forms a civil action against the government, due to come before the courts next autumn. Mr Taylor said by demanding compensation, they hope this will force the government to tackle the problem head-on.

Lisa Frascarelli, a spokesman for the prison service, said: “Like every death in custody, Michael Taylor's death at HMP Bedford on 17 April 2007 is a tragedy and our sympathies are with his family and friends.

"The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) will carefully consider the inquest findings to see what lessons can be learned.”

She said since his death, drug treatment systems have been introduced at HMP Bedford and are now mandatory for all prisons.

Money was made available to to bring in the programme in April 2009.