Deaths in Custody
Deaths in Custody
- There are too many people dying in custody and that number is increasing. Between 2012 and 2022, 350 people died whilst in prison custody in Scotland. This is an average of 31.8 deaths per year. Just under half of the 350 deaths were attributed to suicide or were drug-related deaths.
- The number of deaths in prison custody per year increased between 2012 and 2022, with the highest number of annual deaths recorded in 2021 (53). The number of people dying in prison custody per 1,000 average daily prison population has trebled over the period from 2.12 in 2012 to 6.40 in 2022.
- Over the last 3 years the number of people dying in prison is higher than for any other 3 year period on record. From September 2020 to 2022 there were 121 deaths in Scottish prisons.
- There have been 26 deaths in custody this year (2023), 20 of them since May.
- Since the introduction the SPS’s ‘Talk to Me’ preventative suicide strategy in late 2016, there has been an increase of 42% in prison suicide rates.
- A detailed analysis of deaths in custody, including those which are attributed to natural causes, is needed. We know from HIMPS prison inspections that there are serious shortcomings in the healthcare, particularly mental healthcare, provided to prisoners in many prison settings.
- Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAIs) often take many years to conclude and often do not include any recommendations. There is no mechanism by which findings from FAIs are monitored or reported upon so as to help prevent or predict similar occurrences in the future.
- We share the concerns of the Chair of the Oversight of Recommendations of the Independent Review of the Response to Deaths in Prison Custody, who believes that progress of the recommendations of the Independent Review has been far too slow, reflecting a resistance to the findings of the review and to the idea that there is a need for change.