Report recommends minimising isolation of young people on remand in wake of tragic deaths

Humza Yousaf

Being traumatised, being young, being held on remand and being in the first three months of custody increases the risk of suicide, a report on mental health services for young people entering custody at HMP YOI Polmont has found.

The report follows an expert review instigated last November in the wake of the tragic deaths of Katie Allan and William Lindsay (Brown) at HMP YOI Polmont.

The report recommends, among other things, that social isolation for young prisoners should be minimised, particularly for those held on remand and during the early weeks in custody and that the Scottish government and other agencies should work together to improve the sharing and transmission of information for young people entering and leaving custody.

It also recommends a bespoke suicide and self-harm strategy should be developed by the Scottish Prison Service and NHS Forth Valley for young people that builds on the strengths of the existing framework.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The report contains 80 recommendations, and we are clear that improvements can and should be made. We will give the report and recommendations full and detailed consideration.

“The Scottish Prison Service and NHS partners have undertaken a range of actions in recent months to improve support and it remains a priority for me to work with other Government ministers and responsible agencies to agree detailed actions in response to this independent review.

“The review recommendations are comprehensive and wide-ranging. We will consider with the SPS, NHS and other partners further immediate actions in light of the review to improve the support and care for young people in custody as well as reflecting fully on the wider strategic recommendations in the report. We will provide an update to Parliament before recess.”

Scottish Labour’s justice spokesperson, Daniel Johnson MSP, said: “The tragic deaths of Katie Allan and William Lindsay showed that our prison system is failing on mental health.

“This report confirms that young people are being let down, in particular, those on remand and in the early stages of custody.

“The government must commit to meeting the recommendations put forward, including a bespoke suicide and self-harm strategy developed by the Scottish Prison Service and NHS Forth Valley.

“The indication that Scotland has a particularly high suicide rate in its prisons is deeply troubling and this report must be the start of a process of transforming Polmont and all other prisons in Scotland, not the end.”

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