McArthur writes to Justice Secretary over “self-harm epidemic” in prisons


Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson, Liam McArthur MSP, has today written to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, warning of the ‘self-harm epidemic’ in Scottish prisons after research revealed that the number of incidents has increased by over 70% in just three years.

The letter comes in response to a freedom of information request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats which revealed that since 2013 there have been 1,512 self-harm incidents in Scottish prisons with the number is rising year-on-year.

Commenting Mr McArthur said:

“It is troubling to see the number of self-harm incidents in prisons has been rising year on year.

“With almost five hundred cases of self-harm last year, reform of prison mental health care is urgently needed. I have written to the Cabinet Secretary emphasising this point and calling for action to address this self harm epidemic.

“These figures are symptomatic of the failure by this Scottish Government to deliver the step change in mental health that we desperately need, both in prisons and in the broader community. During the budget negotiations, we discovered the Scottish Government is even further behind than we thought.

“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.

“I hope the Cabinet Secretary recognises that these figures cannot be ignored and that we need to reverse this alarming trend in self harm.”


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