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Consultant named to lead mental health review for young people in custody

18 January 2019

A leading consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist has been chosen to lead the independent expert review of mental health and wellbeing support for young people in custody.

Consultant forensic child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Helen Smith will work with HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland and others to review support for young people in the Polmont prison and young offenders institution.

The review, announced by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf in November (click here for report), follows public concern over the deaths in the institution of Katie Allan and William Lindsay, each soon after their admission.

Dr Smith, who is also clinical lead for West of Scotland Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, and honorary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Glasgow, has extensive experience of work to improve the mental health of young people in secure care.

Under the terms of reference now also confirmed, the review will consider arrangements including:

  • the background information available to the Scottish Prison Service ahead of admission;
  • reception arrangements on entry; and
  • ongoing support and supervision while in custody.

Mr Yousaf commented: "This review will focus specifically on young people in custody and will draw directly on the views and lived experiences of staff, young people and their families at Polmont. It will require a wide ranging approach with a specific understanding of the particular difficulties faced by young people, so I am pleased that Dr Smith, with her considerable experience and knowledge, has been appointed to provide expert counsel."

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