Information

UN convention against torture: our position statement

Account of progress in Scotland in giving effect to the UN Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in advance of a review of the UK by the UN Committee Against Torture in May 2019.


Custody and detention

“ All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Treatment of people in custody

16. Please describe the procedures in place for ensuring compliance with article 11 of the Convention and provide information on any rules, instructions, methods and practices or arrangements for custody that may have been introduced since the consideration of the previous periodic report (May 2013). Please indicate the frequency with which they are reviewed.

Police custody

In Scotland, procedures for arrest are contained within Part 1 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016,[82] which came into force on 25 January 2018. In light of this, Police Scotland has revised its Standard Operating Procedure on the Care and Welfare of Persons in Police Custody.[83] This reflects the provisions in sections 50 and 51 of the 2016 Act, which place a duty on Police Scotland not to detain a person (which includes a child) unnecessarily in custody and to consider a child’s wellbeing as a primary consideration when making decisions in relation to a child, including a decision whether or not to hold a child in custody.

Access to solicitors for arrested persons is provided for under the chapter 4 provisions within Part 1 of the 2016 Act. Persons arrested under section 1 of the 2016 Act are entitled, under section 43, to have details of their detention sent to a solicitor and, under section 38, to one other person without any unnecessary delay. Under section 44 the person also has a right to a private consultation with a solicitor at any time whilst in police custody. The consultation can be by any appropriate means, including advice over the telephone.

The following rights are applicable to suspects who are going to be interviewed by the police regarding a crime or offence:

  • Section 32 – right to have a solicitor present – will entitle a suspect to have a solicitor present while they are being questioned by the police. There is an exceptional circumstances caveat, which would allow the police to interview an individual without delay in the interests of the investigation or the prevention of crime, or the apprehension of offenders.
  • Section 33 – consent to interview without solicitor – will allow a suspect to waive their right to have a solicitor present. Certain groups of people cannot waive this right, such as:
    • people under 16;
    • 16-17 year olds subject to a supervision order;
    • 16-17 year olds not under a supervision order can waive their right with the agreement of a “relevant person” (who must be an adult); and
    • people who, owing to a mental disorder, cannot understand sufficiently what is happening or communicate effectively with the police.

An arrested person suspected of a crime is entitled to decline any questions, other than confirming their identity, address and nationality, and no adverse legal consequences arise from such a silence, though, depending on the circumstances, it may raise later problems of credibility. This will not change as a result of the 2016 Act.

Prisons

Sections 6A to 7G of the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1989 (as amended) provide the statutory basis for inspection and monitoring of prisons in Scotland, and it is explicitly stated that the provisions are in pursuance of the objectives of OPCAT.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland (HMCIPS) continues to be responsible for ensuring that a systematic programme of inspection is carried out on individual prisons in Scotland and, in August 2015, was given a statutory role in overseeing the new arrangements for independent monitoring of prisons in Scotland. HMCIPS is accountable to the Scottish Ministers and operates independently and impartially from the SPS. She must report to the Scottish Ministers on the findings of individual inspections and annually on (a) the conditions in prisons and the treatment of prisoners; and (b) the exercise of functions of independent prison monitors. Annual reports must be laid before the Scottish Parliament. HMCIPS assesses the treatment and care of prisoners across the prison estate against a pre-defined set of standards, which are set out in the document Standards for Inspecting and Monitoring Prisons in Scotland (March 2015).[84] The standards articulate what is expected of a well-run prison and clearly identify what will be monitored and inspected.

Under the new arrangements for monitoring prisons in Scotland, monitoring is now carried out by Independent Prison Monitors (IPM), who are members of the public and representatives of civil society. Section 7D of the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1989 sets out the powers and duties of IPMs, including the power to visit and access any part of the prison to which they have been assigned and speak in private with any prisoner, visitor, prison officer or other person working at the prison. There is a statutory requirement that at least one IPM must visit each prison once a week.

A Prison Monitoring Advisory Group has been established by HMCIPS, in line with section 7F of the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1989, to keep the effectiveness of prison monitoring under review, contribute to the guidance published by HMCIPS and keep that guidance under review. A feature of the new arrangements is that an obligation was placed on the Scottish Ministers in terms of section 7G of the 1989 Act to make arrangements for prison visits by the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture established under Article 2 of OPCAT.

Prisoners may also take complaints to the SPSO if they are not satisfied with the response given to a complaint made under the Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011 (as amended).[85]

Prison population and alternatives to imprisonment

17. In the light of the previous concluding observations (para. 31), please describe the measures taken by the State party to reduce prison overcrowding, including alternatives to imprisonment, both before and after trial.

Scotland’s prison population has continued to fall over the past few years. The average daily population in 2016-17 stood at 7,552, roughly 6% lower than the equivalent figure in 2011-12 (8,178).

Evidence shows that short-term imprisonment is not effective and can in fact increase long-term offending by weakening social bonds and decreasing job stability. The 2018-19 PfG re-affirms the Scottish Ministers’ commitment to extend the current presumption against short sentences from three months to 12 months in the year ahead, once relevant measures within the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 are implemented. The majority of all respondents (85%) to a public consultation on proposals to strengthen the presumption supported an extension and, of those who expressed a view, 84% supported an extension to cover sentences of 12 months or less.

There is also a drive to tackle reoffending through the greater use of robust community sentences. Individuals released from a custodial sentence of 12 months or less are reconvicted nearly twice as often as those who are given a Community Payback Order. Community sentences have accounted for a greater proportion of all penalties handed down by Scottish Courts every year since 2011-12 and the differential between the two has increased steadily over that time. In 2015-16, community sentences accounted for 19% of all penalties; whereas custodial sentences accounted for only 14% (fines were the single most common penalty in each of those years, accounting for over 50% of all penalties).

The fall in the use of custodial sentences has been most pronounced among young people – the number of custodial sentences involving 16-20 years olds (or under 21s) fell by 61% between 2006-7 (3,270) and 2015-16 (1,262). This has been driven by the adoption of the Whole System Approach (WSA), which aims to achieve positive outcomes for young people by helping various statutory and non-statutory bodies to work together to build a more consistent approach to prevent and reduce offending by children and young people through early and effective intervention.

The Scottish Government intends to expand its successful approach to include, where possible, young people up to the age of 21 and care experienced young people up to the age of 26.

The Scottish Government is committed to addressing the underlying causes of offending and promoting the least intrusive intervention at the earliest possible time. This includes working with Community Justice Scotland, Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW) and COPFS to maximise the availability and appropriate use of diversion across the country. CJSW funding has been maintained at record levels of around £100 million per year.

Bail support and supervision is aimed at people who would otherwise be held on remand, enabling them to be supervised in the community. This allows families to stay together and sustain employment or stable housing, both of which are proven to reduce reoffending. The Scottish Government is committed to working with CJSW teams to share good practice, and will issue revised guidance and provide additional funding for supervised and supported bail to ensure that remand is only used where necessary and appropriate.

The SPS continues to invest in the modernisation of the prison estate and implement its transformational change agenda, which has an emphasis on building a person-centred, asset-based approach in order to invest in rehabilitation and reintegration services. The reintegration of people leaving custody is a priority for the SPS, including investment in the maintenance of family relationships and contact in prison, a review of purposeful activity provision and an emphasis on respectful relationships between staff and prisoners. Purposeful activity is a major component of the SPS integration model, which provides a pathway to desistance-focused, asset-based approaches to assisting prisoners prepare for release.

Approximately 40 Throughcare Support Officers across the prison estate provide support to people to help prepare for release and work with them beyond release in the community.

18. Please provide statistical data, disaggregated by sex, age and ethnic origin or nationality, on the number of pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners and the occupancy rate of all places of detention.

Prison population figures in Scotland are published online and updated regularly.[86]

Prison population (excluding home detention curfew) Scotland
Average daily population for 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017

Women

366

Remand

Untried

3

Convicted awaiting sentence

5

Sentenced

279

Men

7,185

Remand

Untried

1,042

Convicted awaiting sentence

240

Sentenced

5,903

Total

7,552

Under 21

Remand

Untried

100

Convicted awaiting sentence

35

Sentenced

282

21 and over

Remand

Untried

1,006

Convicted awaiting sentence

230

Sentenced

5,900

Source: Scottish Government Justice Analytical Services. Management information from the Scottish Prison Service PR2 system

(NOTE: Figures in the table above may not add up due to rounding.)

Prisoners in Custody by Nationality as at 9 February 2018

Nationality

Number of Prisoners

Afghan

4

Albanian

8

Algerian

3

American

1

Austrian

1

Bangladeshi

2

Barbadian

1

Belgian

1

Brazilian

1

British

7,165

Bulgarian

6

Cameroonian

1

Chadian

1

Chinese

9

Congolese

1

Danish

1

Dominican

1

Dutch

3

Egyptian

1

Eritrean

1

Estonian

2

French

4

Georgian

1

Ghanaian

1

Guinean

2

Hungarian

1

Indian

7

Iranian

7

Iraqi

6

Irish

24

Italian

5

Jamaican

2

Latvian

8

Libyan

1

Lithuanian

16

Malaysian

2

Moroccan

3

Nigerian

6

Pakistani

7

Polish

67

Portuguese

2

Romanian

11

Russian

1

Seychelloise

1

Slovakian

4

Somalian

8

South African

2

Spanish

5

Sri Lankan

1

Sudanese

3

Swedish

1

Tanzanian

1

Turkish

3

Ukrainian

2

Undetermined

1

Vietnamese

10

Zimbabwean

5

TOTAL

7,445

Source: Scottish Government Justice Analytical Services. Management information from the Scottish Prison Service PR2 system

Both the design capacity and operational capacity of establishments are different and can change for reasons of policy, maintenance and changing operational requirements. The table below shows the occupancy levels of each prison in Scotland when measured against capacity.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Feb 2018

Aberdeen

143%

156%

128%

111%

0

0

0

0

Addiewell

100%

107%

113%

100%

100%

100%

100%

99%

Barlinnie

134%

145%

126%

123%

132%

118%

118%

110%

Cornton Vale

99%

107%

96%

67%

79%

72%

79%

83%

Dumfries

109%

112%

110%

105%

99%

95%

95%

96%

Edinburgh

103%

104%

105%

102%

101%

99%

98%

97%

Glenochil

97%

107%

100%

100%

98%

95%

95%

97%

Grampian

0

0

0

0

47%

71%

89%

84%

Greenock

107%

102%

97%

95%

95%

83%

93%

95%

Inverness

134%

138%

130%

126%

119%

113%

113%

113%

Kilmarnock

111%

124%

123%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

Low Moss

0

0

89%

102%

107%

105%

96%

97%

Open Estate

58%

66%

85%

81%

89%

84%

73%

69%

Perth

98%

108%

104%

105%

102%

100%

98%

99%

Peterhead

97%

99%

91%

73%

0

0

0

0

Polmont

97%

95%

91%

84%

68%

64%

66%

59%

Shotts

100%

98%

98%

99%

99%

99%

99%

98%

The occupancy rate is calculated by dividing the population by the design capacity.

The table below shows the number of sentenced and remanded children detained in Scotland’s secure care homes in the period 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2017. The cells with <5 are supressed to maintain confidentiality.

Boys

Girls

Sentenced

<5

<5

Remanded

32

11

This information is published annually in the Scottish Government, Children and Social Work Statistics.[87]

Court custody and health-care provision in prisons

19. Please inform the Committee on the measures taken to address concerns regarding conditions of detention in court custody and health-care provision in prisons. What measures are in place to prevent ill-treatment of patients who are receiving health-care services?

Court custody

HMIPS has published standards for inspecting court custody provision in Scotland.[88] The standards are referenced against relevant law, international and professional guidance, policy and research findings. By articulating what is expected to be found within court custody units they are intended to assist those who are running such units, and to encourage openness and transparency in the scrutiny of places of detention. The standards have been drawn up in collaboration with the SCTS, SPS and the current custody service provider, G4S. Each organisation is highly supportive of the work of HMIPS in this area, and is firmly of the view that the standards will contribute positively to the effective scrutiny of court custody provision in Scotland and encourage continuous improvement in the quality of care and custody of people held in court cells.

Healthcare provision in prisons

Healthcare services in custody are provided by NHS Scotland, and NHS standards for health-care provision, including primary care, apply within the prison setting. The Scottish Government expects health boards to act appropriately to meet these standards.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has statutory responsibility for ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine and for registering all doctors who are allowed to practise in the UK, whatever their employment conditions. The GMC has powers to investigate allegations which call into question a doctor’s fitness to practise and, where allegations are proven, take appropriate action. Such action may include issuing a warning, removing the doctor from the register, or suspending or placing conditions on a doctor’s registration.

The Scottish Government has established a Health and Justice Collaboration Improvement Board, which will bring together senior leaders from across Health and Justice to improve outcomes for people and communities, including prisons; support ambitions to reduce health inequalities and risk of offending; improve performance and achieve greater value for money across the whole system; improve collaborative working; and prioritise prevention.

Isolation, use of force, strip searches and custody records

20. Please comment on reports indicating that there are inconsistencies in the use of isolation and solitary confinement, and on the assertion in the sixth annual report of the National Preventive Mechanism entitled “Monitoring places of detention” (2015) that “improvements in the collection and monitoring of information on the use of force and strip searches were needed, as well as in the quality and quality assurance of custody records, risk assessments and transfer of information about detainees”.

Police Scotland

In cases where a strip search of a person who is not in custody is considered necessary, it must be carried out in accordance with Annex C of the Code of Practice on the Exercise by Constables of Powers of Stop and Search of the Person in Scotland.[89]Strip searches of people who have been arrested are covered by Police Scotland’s Standard Operating Procedure, Care and Welfare of Persons in Police Custody.[90] Strip searches conducted within the environs of a police station are recorded on the National Custody System and will also include the rationale and authorisation for the strip search taking place.

In January 2017 Police Scotland introduced a National Custody System. Information relating to detainees in police custody can be accessed across the country so that quality assurance checks can be carried out. Custody cluster inspectors from the Criminal Justice Services Division carry out dip sampling of custody records to ensure there is consistency of approach to completing the records.

Police Scotland carries out a risk assessment of all persons entering police custody, which covers medical needs and other specific concerns relating to their time in police custody, such as being violent. When Police Scotland transfers custody to G4S (prisoner handling service), all information relating to the prisoner’s risk assessment is disclosed to that organisation and prisoner property records are transferred.

Courts

The SCTS is committed to providing court custody units that are up to standard. In 2017 HMIPS published Standards for Inspecting Court Custody Provision in Scotland.[91] This was an important, authoritative piece of work that has helped raise the standard of court custody accommodation, ensuring improved safety and wellbeing, as well as protecting the dignity of prisoners. The report was welcomed by the SCTS and resulted in demonstrable improvements on the ground. For example, the report highlighted as being deficient the accommodation for women prisoners in Glasgow Sheriff Court, resulting in a major programme of improvement.

Prisons and young offender institutions

“Solitary confinement” is not a term recognised within SPS. There are, however, occasions where, due to the behaviour of a person or a risk to their safety and wellbeing (both physically and mentally) or the safety and wellbeing of others, it may be necessary to remove them from association for a limited period of time and place them in a Separation and Reintegration Unit (SRU).

Rule 95 of the Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 2011 enables a governor to remove a person in their care from association with other persons where they are satisfied that it is appropriate to do so to protect their safety, or that of any other person, or where there is a risk to the good order or discipline of the prison or Young Offender Institution (YOI). The rule also provides important safeguards for persons removed from association, which ensure that the reason for removal is clearly communicated to the person, they are afforded the opportunity to make representations against their removal, and they are monitored and reviewed regularly. Whilst removed from association there will normally be no unnecessary restrictions on their entitlements to visits, including legal visits, access to telephones and correspondence. The focus throughout will be to reintegrate the person at the earliest and safest opportunity into the mainstream population, thus minimising any time spent separate from others.

The key principles underpinning the policy are:

  • removal from association should be used sparingly and for the minimum time necessary
  • consideration should be given as to whether removal from association is necessary, proportionate, and balanced
  • the reason for removal should be transparent, recorded and clearly communicated to the prisoner
  • a multi-disciplinary case conferencing approach is used to formulate appropriate monitoring and management plans with a view to reintegrating the prisoner into mainstream circulation
  • the governor’s focus (and that of other prison staff and any advisory groups) throughout the period of removal should be the reintegration of the prisoner to mainstream population as soon as it is appropriate to do so
  • all prisoners removed from association should be monitored regularly
  • a management plan for the prisoner’s detention in either a residential hall or a SRU, and anticipated reintegration to mainstream population, should be established and kept under review
  • there should be no unnecessary restriction on a prisoner’s entitlements, such as visits, including legal visits, access to telephones and correspondence as set out in the Prison Rules, unless the rules authorise the governor to do so
  • the range of incentives and privileges available should, so far as reasonably practicable, be consistent with those available to prisoners who are in mainstream population

Secure accommodation

Young people in secure accommodation are never held in solitary confinement. Each secure service has its own written policy on the use of single separation/segregation, which is an extreme measure to be taken only when other appropriate measures have been tried and have been unsuccessful. Segregation is never used as punishment and should only be used as a last resort to:

  • prevent the young person from significantly injuring themselves
  • prevent the young person from significantly injuring others
  • prevent the young person from absconding from the building
  • prevent significant damage to property
  • calm a potentially disruptive group situation

Normally single separation should continue for no longer than 3 hours in any 24 hour period and for no more than two separate occasions in 24 hours. Every use of this practice is recorded and there are strict limits on its implementation. During the period of segregation the young person will be monitored at least every 15 minutes.

Restraint

21. Please comment on information before the Committee indicating that serious concerns persist regarding the use of restraint affecting detained individuals in health-care and detention settings. Please provide information on any new legislation or measures that have been adopted relating to the use of restraints in health- and social care settings. With reference to the previous concluding observations (para. 28), please inform the Committee about measures taken to ensure that children in young offender institutions are restrained as a last resort only and exclusively to prevent harm to the child or others.

Prisons and young offender institutions

The SPS recognises that all those in its care are individuals with their own unique needs, and promotes equality by dealing sensitively and appropriately with all those in its care, including children and young people.

In all cases where force has been used, a ‘Use of Force Report’ is required to be completed and submitted. SPS Heads of Operations ensure that there is a robust recording process in place at each establishment in order to accurately review situations where force has been used. Where necessary, the Head of Operations will fully investigate any identified concerns.

Techniques intended to induce pain are not used on children and young people in YOIs in Scotland. SPS staff are required to demonstrate competence in the use of restraints on an annual basis. By training staff to the highest standard, the SPS ensures that actions are lawful, necessary, reasonable and proportionate to the situation presented. Staff will, wherever possible and practicable, use communication skills and other non-physical techniques to enlist the willing co-operation of young people in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. The use of force will only be considered when all other means have been exhausted or are deemed unlikely to succeed. Where force is used, a record is kept by establishment Heads of Operations. This record is monitored by managers, audited and examined by HMIPS.

Secure accommodation

Mechanical restraints or spit hoods are not used in secure accommodation services in Scotland. Pain compliance techniques are not part of any training programme used in residential or secure accommodation. Young people in secure care will only be physically restrained by trained care staff when:

  • they are behaving in an unsafe or dangerous way;
  • there is a serious risk of harm to themselves or another person; and
  • there is no other effective way of keeping the young person or others safe.

If it is necessary to physically restrain a young person they will only be restrained for the shortest time possible, using as little force as necessary. Published in 2005 and updated in 2013, the Scottish Government Holding Safely guidance[92] outlines the parameters for physically restraining a child: staff must act lawfully, and staff restraining a child must be appropriately trained and have the required skill and judgement. The amended guidance encourages all secure services to develop clear plans for reducing the use of physical restraint.

After a physical restraint, and when the young person is ready, care staff will speak to the young person about the restraint, taking account of the young person’s view to try to better understand why it happened and minimise the need for restraint in the future. Staff will ask the young person how they are feeling and, if necessary, the young person will be seen by a nurse. Full written details of the incident, including the young person’s comments, will be recorded by the unit and copied in to the young person’s care plan. The young person will receive help to contact an advocacy worker (for example a children’s rights officer or a Who Cares? Scotland worker) or to make a complaint if they wish.

Each secure care home has a written policy and procedures on the conditions where restraint may be used. Staff are fully trained and supported in the use of restraint. If restraint is necessary at any time, this is written in an individual’s care plan. Records are kept of any incidents involving restraint, and individuals can expect to be supported after any episode of restraint.

The Care Inspectorate is responsible for the regulation of secure care services for children and young people in Scotland. It ensures children and young people in these services are kept safe and that their rights to privacy, choice and dignity are promoted. It carries out inspections of secure units, including restraint procedures.

The Care Inspectorate has developed a notification summary tool, which can measure and benchmark the number of incidents across care services, including secure units, on a monthly basis. These data are now used as part of the risk analysis when considering regulatory contact with secure services and also the scope and intensity of inspections. The incidence of restraint, restraint training and the quality of staff interventions are assessed at every inspection, with young people’s views key to this assessment. This is then publicly reported within service inspection reports. The national review of notifications is ongoing, with the aim of improving the quality of restraintdata received from services to further inform and improve both operational and regulatory scrutiny.

Health and social care

The Health and Social Care Standards,[93] which came into force on 1 April 2018, will, for the first time, be applicable to all health and social care services. Designed with a human rights-based approach, the Standards focus on supporting improvement and delivering better personal outcomes for those using health and/or care services. They seek to ensure that individuals are treated with respect and dignity, and that human rights are upheld.

For example, in relation to restrictions on an individual’s independence, control and choice, Standard 1 (“I experience high quality care and support that is right for me”) makes clear that such restrictions should comply with relevant legislation and must be justified, kept to a minimum and carried out sensitively.

Inter-prisoner violence

22. Please provide information about the frequency of inter-prisoner violence, including any cases involving possible negligence on the part of law enforcement personnel, the number of complaints made in this regard and their outcome. What preventive measures have been taken?

The HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland: Annual Report 2017-18[94] states that:

“It is a fundamental requirement of a well-run prison that people who live and work there should feel confident in its stability and order. We should never take for granted the good order that is maintained in Scotland’s prisons.”

Against that background the data requested are:

Year

Prisoner on prisoner assaults (minor and no injury)

Prisoner on prisoner assaults (serious)

Total

2012-13

1,735

74

1,809

2013-14

1,822

82

1,904

2014-15

1,767

66

1,833

2015-16

1,971

79

2,050

2016-17

2,136

74

2,210

2017-18

2,173

94

2,267

(Source – SPS Annual Reports)

The SPS takes responsibility for prisoner safety extremely seriously. It operates a Violence Reduction Strategy whereby each prison has its own plan, which encompasses guidance on cell sharing risk assessments and anti-bullying measures. The SPS provides staff with appropriate training in order to detect, deter, de-escalate and, if necessary, protect themselves, prisoners and others from violent acts. SPS staff are required to demonstrate competence in the use of restraints on an annual basis. By training staff to the highest standard, SPS seeks to ensure that actions taken are lawful, necessary, reasonable and proportionate to the situation presented.

Deaths in custody

23. Please provide statistical data regarding deaths in custody, including in mental health detention and police custody, during the period under consideration (since 2012), disaggregated by place of detention, the sex, age and ethnicity or nationality of the deceased and cause of death. Please provide information on the results of the investigations into those deaths and on the measures taken to prevent similar cases occurring in the future. Please indicate whether relatives received compensation in any of the cases.

Police custody

According to its Annual Report 2016-17,[95] the PIRC investigated three deaths in police custody and 19 into deaths following police contact. Figures for each year since the PIRC was established in 2013 are:

Year

Deaths in Custody investigated by the PIRC

Deaths following contact with the police, investigated by the PIRC

2013-14

7

11

2014-15

2

8

2015-16

2

12

2016-17

3

19

Dame Elish Angiolini’s review of deaths in police custody in England and Wales[96] recommended improvements to the collection and recording of data on deaths in police custody. The Lord Advocate, as head of the system of investigation of deaths in Scotland, is considering the report’s implications for Scotland, in conjunction with Scottish Government officials.

As with all other deaths of which they are informed, the police are required to investigate the death and report the circumstances to the relevant Procurator Fiscal. All deaths in police custody are subject to a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI).

Prisons

The SPS records all deaths in custody in calendar years and publishes information for the preceding 10 years.[97] (Figures for deaths in prisons in Scotland since 2012 are contained in the Annex). The SPS is committed to the preservation of life and to ensuring that lessons are learned from previous deaths in custody through its Self-Inflicted Death in Custody Audit, Analysis and Review Policy. Following the commencement of the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016[98] all deaths in prison are subject to a mandatory FAI, as was the case under the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976.[99]

Suicide prevention

In November 2016, the SPS launched its new Suicide Prevention Strategy, Talk to Me, which replaces ACT2Care. This strategy is intended to enable the whole prison community to work together to identify vulnerable individuals, share information and encourage those “at risk” to accept help and support. All prison staff and partners working with prisoners are provided with mandatory training on Talk to Me to ensure that they are competent to fulfil their role in the management of prisoners with suicidal ideation.

The Scottish Government Suicide Prevention Action Plan, Every Life Matters,[100] was published on 9 August 2018. It sets out an ambitious set of measures for a step change in action and culture around prevention of suicide, designed to continue the strong long-term downward trend in the rate of suicide in the general population in Scotland. It also cross-refers to a separate commitment (in the Mental Health Strategy 2017) to provide 800 more mental health workers to support mental health specialist access in a variety of front-line settings, including police custody suites and prisons.

In instances of self-harm which present to the NHS, the Scottish Government expects clinicians to investigate thoroughly and to support the patient both to recover and to avoid repetition of the self-harming.

All instances of death by suicide under NHS care are subject to review by the relevant NHS Board, which will work with Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) to establish what lessons can be learned to improve future safety for patients. HIS also coordinates a Suicide Review Community of Practice to help inform improvements in patient safety across the NHS in Scotland.

All suicides in Scotland are reported to the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit (SFIU), a specialist unit within COPFS. The SFIU reports to the Lord Advocate, who is responsible for the investigation of deaths in Scotland, and will consider whether there has been a systematic failure in care which contributed to the person taking their life, and will ordinarily request and consider the relevant NHS Board’s adverse event review reports related to the death. In addition, when investigating cases, the SFIU may consider instructing an independent expert to consider the circumstances, which may include consideration of the review report and its learning outcomes. At the conclusion of its investigation, the SFIU will consider whether there should be an FAI.

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland has clear notification criteria which apply following the death of an individual by suicide. In particular, it requires notification of suicides of people detained under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.[101] The MWCS may formally investigate circumstances of the person’s care to identify if there were any deficiencies in care or treatment and if there are any issues to inform wider learning. These investigation reports would be shared with the specific NHS Board and would be anonymised if published.

Patients detained under mental health legislation

A joint letter from the Scottish Government’s Chief Medical Officer and the Crown Agent and Chief Executive of COPFS was issued to health boards in November 2015 requiring medical practitioners to report to the Procurator Fiscal any death of a person subject to an order under either the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 or part VI of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (whether detained in hospital or being treated in the community).[102] The change was introduced to ensure that these deaths are given the appropriate level of scrutiny in accordance with Article 2 of the ECHR. This allows discretionary FAIs as appropriate, as in any reported death.

Healthcare providers are required to notify the MWCS of the death of any person subject to an order under the 2003 Act or the 1995 Act.

The Scottish Government conducted a review, under section 37 of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 2015, into the arrangements for the investigation of deaths of certain categories of people with mental health conditions, including patients detained in mental health services subject to orders under the 2003 Act or 1995 Act referenced above. The report of the review was published on 17 December 2018.[103] Action 4 of the report relates to statistical information on deaths:

“The Scottish Government will work with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, and NHS National Services Scotland to identify an appropriate set of publicly reportable measures that reflect best practice in the investigation of deaths and can be used to identify where improvement is required.”

Women prisoners

Special needs of women in detention

24. Please provide information on the efforts by the State party to meet the special needs of women in detention.

Scotland has established standards for treatment of women in a custodial setting, which comply with the broad principles set out in the Bangkok Rules.[104]

Following a period of consultation in 2015, the Scottish Government announced the decision to build a new national prison for women on the current site of HMP and YOI Cornton Vale, and up to five small community‑based custodial units across Scotland. All aspects of the custodial estate will be run and managed by SPS but services will be delivered through multi-disciplinary teams working together to provide a consistent and holistic approach to the management of women who are held in custody and, importantly, linking them to the services they will need on their release back into the community.

The Scottish Government funded STORM training across Scotland’s secure accommodation services to provide a sustainable programme of self-harm and suicide prevention. STORM is an evidence-based programme that helps to build the skills and confidence of staff to ask the difficult questions around self-harm, suicide and self-injury.

The Scottish Government has also provided local justice and third sector organisations with additional funding to develop local community justice services for women. This includes funding for female mentoring services, bail supervision, and early and effective intervention services.

Contact

Email: David.Holmes@gov.scot

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