Suicides At Polmont Prompt Review
24 November 2018, 10:31
Mental health provision for young people entering Polmont Young Offenders Institution will be reviewed after two suicides in four months.
Following the death of Katie Allan, 21, in June, another inmate, 16-year-old William Brown, also known as William Lindsay, killed himself just 48 hours after being sent there on remand.
Lawyer Aamer Anwar, representing the families of Ms Allan and Mr Brown, said that they cautiously welcomed the announcement of a review.
Mr Anwar said: "The deaths of Katie and William were never inevitable, the system and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) failed them.
"The families of Katie Allan and William Lindsay expect and demand a lot more to happen in the days and weeks ahead.
"Today is a good start, but the families hold Polmont responsible for suicides which took place, ultimately they failed in their duty of care.
"If this review is independent then the families wait to see the proof of that as they must be fearless in the questions they ask."
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf announced the review, which will look at relevant operational polices, practice and training and report by the spring, in a letter to the Parliament's Justice and Health committees.
In the letter, Mr Yousaf wrote: "Every death by suicide is a tragedy, and a death in custody can rightly raise particular questions for families.
"I have expressed my deepest of sympathies to the families of Katie and William. I had the opportunity to express this personally to Katie's parents when I met them.
"As with any death in custody a mandatory and independent Fatal Accident Inquiry investigation will be undertaken by the Crown Office into the deaths of both Katie Allan and William Lindsay.
"It is important that those independent investigations are allowed to proceed.
"However, I have reflected on some of the more immediate questions raised particularly around the provision of mental health support and services for young people in custody."
A mental health expert will work with the independent HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland and others to review mental health provision for young people entering custody, including background information available ahead of their admission, the reception arrangements, and ongoing support and supervision while in custody.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman, confirmed that NHS Forth Valley have engaged with the Scottish Prison Service to assess and augment provision for people living at Polmont.