The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

‘Do more to stop suicides in Scots jails’

Call: Liberal Democrats say prisons must look for signs after 28 deaths


The prison service has been urged to do more to detect earlywarni­ngsigns ofmental ill health among prisoners after it was revealed there have been 28 apparent suicides in Scotland’s jails over the past three years.

Official Scottish Prison Service (SPS) figures collatedby­the Scottish Liberal Democrats showed there were 13 apparent suicides in 2010-11, eight in 2011-12, and seven in 2012-13.

All but one of these were male prisoners, and only two of the total of 28 were placed on the SPS’s suicide prevention strategy, ACT 2 care.

Before a death in custody can be formally recorded as suicide, a Fatal Accident In- quiry (FAI) must be held, in accordance with the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976 to legally determine the cause of death.

Of the 28 apparent suicides, eight have been determined by FAIs.

Figures also showed there had been 61 attempted suicide incidents over the same three-year period.

Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoma­n Alison McInnes said: “Every suicide in prison is one too many.

“These people are paying penance for their crimes but they are still someone’s brother, uncle, daughter or son.

“The Scottish Prison Service must ensure that staff are able to identify the early warning signs.

“I am particular­ly worried that of the 28 apparent suicides, only twoprisone­rs were on the prisons suicide prevention programme.

“Our prison staff are highly trained but their demandingj­ob is madeall the more difficult by overcrowdi­ng in Scotland’s prisons.”

A Scottish Government spokespers­on said: “SPS staff are trained to identify those at risk of suicide and prison staff continue to work with the health service to ensure that vulnerable people are given the help they need.”

An SPS spokeswoma­n said: “The SPS invests extensivel­y in training our staff in risk management and ACT 2 Care.

“We treat suicide very seriously.”

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