Scottish Prison Service (Auditor General’s Report)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd December 2019.

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Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I agree with what Shona Robison said. However, although she is right about what the chief inspector said and it is important to put it on the record, I am not happy about the level of mental health problems, including issues around self-harm and suicide, in our prison estate. I do not think that we should ever be satisfied by what we are doing in that regard or complacent about the issue, and we should do more to reduce the number of those terrible incidents, particularly those involving self-harm and suicide.

On the question that Liam McArthur asked about mental health professionals, I have managed to find the statistics. We have 19 additional members of staff who are deployed in our prisons, and we will continue to invest in the number of mental health staff in our prison estate. That is one thing that we can certainly do.

Shona Robison will be aware that I asked the chief inspector to look into the issue of mental health in HM YOI Polmont. She will also be aware of the mental health review that is being undertaken by my colleagues the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and the Minister for Mental Health, and I note that prisons will be included in the remit of that review.

We are looking to do a range of things. We are certainly not complacent. We await the findings of the review and we will continue to invest in mental health staff in our prison service. Certainly, one incident of self-harm or one incident of suicide is one too many.