Self-harm incidents ‘skyrocketing’ in Scots prisons

The funding of mental health care for Scotland’s prisoners must be increased after the number of self-harm incidents “skyrocketed”, an MSP has said.

Sunday, 17th March 2019, 1:21 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th March 2019, 1:37 pm
LIb Den Liam McArthur. Pic: Toby Williams

Figures show there were 762 incidents in 2018, compared to 532 in the previous year – a jump of 43 per cent. These include burns, cuts, attempted suicide, ligature, overdoses and swallowing items.

The highest number was at HMP & YOI Grampian. It recorded 175 incidents in 2018, with 138 of those categorised as “cuts”.

Of the 762 total incidents recorded across Scotland 517 were for cuts. A total of 72 incidents in Scotland were categorised under “swallows item”, 41 for “overdose” and 31 as “attempted suicide”.

The figures were published following a Freedom of Information request made by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

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The party’s justice spokesman, Liam McArthur MSP, said: “Incident numbers have been on an upward trajectory for years but last year they skyrocketed.

“The scale of self-harm in Scotland’s prisons is devastating. This must prompt serious new investment in prison mental health care.

“Prison staff are working incredibly hard but they don’t have the resources or staff they need.

“It has been two years since the Scottish Government accepted Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals to expand the mental health workforce in prisons.

“However, so far there are just two new staff across Scotland’s 15 prisons.

“Ministers still can’t tell us how many extra staff there will be in the end.

“Staff, prisoners and the communities they return to have every right to demand better. We need more mental health professionals deployed in our prisons now. This will help save lives.”