McArthur presses Scottish government on disgraceful fatal accident inquiry system

McArthur presses Scottish government on disgraceful fatal accident inquiry system

Liam McArthur

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has demanded the Scottish government respond to research stating that no recommendations to improve practice are made in nine out of 10 fatal accident inquiries into deaths in prison.

Sheriffs made no recommendations for improvement in almost 200 fatal accident inquiries into deaths in custody, a study by academics at Glasgow University found.

Having looked at 196 deaths in prison between 2005 and 2019, they found the average time between the death of a person in custody and the conclusion of an FAI was 509 days between 2005 and 2008.

But since laws were introduced in 2016 to make the system more efficient, the time has increased to 700 days. Furthermore, the chance of the FAI concluding with a finding about the circumstances of the death decreased.

Research by Scottish Liberal Democrats in 2019 found decade long delays to the investigations into deaths outside prisons. The Scottish government and the Lord Advocate promised resources and improvements in response but still decade-long delays occur.

Mr McArthur highlighted the case of Jack Mackenzie who died awaiting trial, three years on from the deaths of William Lindsay and Katie Allen.

Mr McArthur said: “The deaths in Polmont were tragic and preventable. However, efforts to learn lessons and prevent such tragedies reoccurring have been undermined by failings in the very system set up to allow this to happen.

“The fatal accident inquiry system isn’t working. FAIs are supposed to ensure that lessons are learned, improvements are made and that mistakes are not repeated. However, too often, that isn’t happening.

“The whole system is in need of reform. The Scottish government should honour their promise and avoid more preventable deaths.”

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