Irish Penal Reform Trust

Scotland: Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People in Custody

21st May 2019

The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) has published Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People in Custody: An Evidence Review. The review has identified that young people in custody should not be isolated or denied access to family or support, and that time outside of their cells should be maximised.

The review highlights the importance of access to support and personal belongings even for those being disciplined in prison. The review also finds that prison staff themselves should be offered support in learning more about mental health issues and empowering and giving space and time for them to form more trusting relationships with prisoners.

In conducting their review SCCJR researchers also found that there timing of publishing data on prison suicide means the suicide rate had been underestimated in published research. Reports that base their research off published Scottish Prison Service data use incorrect data due to delays – for example, internal analysis of Scottish Prison Service data shows 31 deaths categorized as suicide between 2011 and 2014, whereas a report using published data showed a figure of only 22.

The review comes after the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice called for a review of mental health services for young people in custody following recent deaths at a Scottish Young Offenders Institution. The SCCJR report is part of this review which can be found in its entirety on HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland website.

To read Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People in Custody: Evidence Review in full, visit the SCCJR website here.

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