Scottish Liberal Democrats: “Self-harm epidemic” shows need for prison mental health reform


Scottish Liberal Democrats today warned of “a self-harm epidemic” in Scottish prisons after new research revealed that the number of incidents has increased by over 70% in just three years. 

In response to a freedom of information request from the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Prison Service revealed that since 2013 there have been 1,512 self-harm incidents in Scottish prisons and the number is rising year-on-year.

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson, Liam McArthur MSP, said: 

“It is thoroughly disheartening to learn that the number of self-harm incidents in prisons is on the rise.

“With almost five hundred cases of self-harm last year, substantial reform of prison mental health care is needed to end this self-harm epidemic.

“Just because someone is imprisoned doesn’t mean that they should be denied the same access to health care as anyone else in the community. Yet there has long been a suspicion that this is not the case.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, commented:

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

“I successfully pressed for the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee to conduct an inquiry into healthcare in prisons. These horrendous new figures show the importance of this parliamentary investigation.”


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