The number of self-harm incidents and attempted suicides recorded in prisons during the first 7 months of 2019 has already far exceeded the figures for the whole of 2018, causing Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP to demand the government establish a new taskforce and finally treat the situation as “emergency”.
Figures acquired through freedom of information requests by the Evening Express and Scottish Liberal Democrats have shown:
- There were 77 attempted suicides in the first seven months of 2019, compared to 31 in the whole of 2018.
- 1,069 self-harm incidents have already been recorded in 2019, compared to 762 in the whole of 2018 and 532 in 2017.
Liam McArthur MSP commented:
“The fact there have been twice as many attempted suicides in the first few months of 2019 as there was in the whole of last year is devastating news. These figures are a cry for help.
“The SNP Government need to wake up to the state of emergency in our prisons. Individual prisons are accommodating up to 500 more people than they were designed for. People are packed in like sardines and overworked staff are being overwhelmed by a mental health crisis.
“Scotland’s prisons are not safe places to be at the moment.
“It’s been over two years since the Scottish Government accepted Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals to expand the mental health workforce in prisons. They were supposed to share in the rollout of 800 extra staff but so far have received just 12. That’s not even the equivalent of one per prison.
“Fatal Accident Inquiries are supposed to ensure that lessons are learned from these tragedies, but the Crown office are swamped and can’t keep up. A broken system shouldn’t get in the way of lessons that can save lives.
“We need a much larger, coordinated intervention to save lives. The Scottish Government needs to establish a new taskforce to address the self-harm epidemic that is occurring within their care.
“Staff, prisoners and the communities people return to have every right to demand better.”