Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today revealed the extent of self-harm in Scottish prisons as new figures uncovered by the party showed that the number of cases recorded has doubled over the past five years ago to more than 10 per week.
A freedom of information request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed that since 2013 there have been 1,855 recorded self-harm incidents in Scottish prisons with the number is rising year-on-year, from 277 in 2013 to 532 in 2017.
Two self-harm incidents per week were recorded at HMP Grampian in 2017. The number of incidents recorded at HMP Edinburgh has trebled since 2013.
Commenting Mr McArthur said:
“The Scottish Prison Service have been active in improving the identification and recording of self-harm but it is still troubling to see the extent to which self-harm is taking place in Scotland's prisons.
“Reform of prison mental health care is urgently needed. A year ago I wrote to the Justice Secretary calling for action to address this self-harm epidemic yet in his parting salvo this week Chief Inspector of Prisons David Strang warned prisoner health care remains an issue.
“Incarceration doesn’t mean people should be deprived of the same access to health care as anyone else in the community. Yet there has long been a sense that this is the case.
"Prison staff are working incredibly hard to help people but they don't have the resources they need. The Scottish Government agreed more than a year ago to Liberal Democrat demands to put mental health workers in every prison but there is no sign yet of when this will happen.
“I appeal to the Scottish Government to recognise the scale of the challenge that these figures represent. Alleviating poor mental health in our justice system would benefit both these individuals and the wider communites that they will return to."