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Independent review to investigate handling of deaths in prison

8 November 2019

An independent expert review of the handling of deaths in prisons is being set up by the Scottish Government.

Led by Wendy Sinclair-Gieben, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, the review will examine the operational policies, practice and training in place within the Scottish Prison Service and NHS relevant to deaths of prisoners. It will seek to identify areas for improvement to ensure appropriate and transparent arrangements are in place in the immediate aftermath of deaths in Scottish prisons. It will also cover deaths of prisoners in NHS care, and will report next summer.

Additional expertise and assurance will be provided by Professor Nancy Loucks, chief executive of Families Outside, a national charity which works on behalf of families affected by imprisonment.

The review will draw on human rights expertise and will also consider the experiences of bereaved relatives, seeking their views on preventative approaches which could better enable families to raise concerns regarding the wellbeing of loved ones in prison.

It is intended to complement current arrangements for the investigation of deaths in custody and the holding of fatal accident inquiries.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf commented: "This review will inform improvements to ensure that all processes and communication with families are as open and transparent as possible.

"Scotland’s justice system is committed to protecting the human rights of all who pass through it and a fatal accident inquiry is mandatory following all deaths in custody.”

The review will not consider or comment on the circumstances of individual deaths in custody which are the subject of ongoing investigation by COPFS, or have not yet been the subject of an FAI, or where there has been a FAI, no determination has yet been issued. Nor will it consider the deaths of people in police custody or following formal release from prison.

 

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